Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Deciding to move a parent, grandparent, or another much-loved older relative into a nursing home can be a difficult decision; no one likes to think about their family member living in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. However, in many cases, moving an elderly and frail person into a nursing home is the best decision for everyone – nursing homes are often able to provide a level of care that family members alone cannot.
Living in a nursing home is not always without complication, though. In fact, many nursing homes are understaffed; staffed with improperly trained, or even unethical employees; or have a history of nursing home injuries, abuse, neglect, and malpractice.
If you have a loved one who is currently residing in a nursing home, it is important that you know how to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse, and what to do if you suspect that your family member is a victim of abuse. Consider the following, which may be a warning that abuse is taking place:
Signs of Physical Abuse
Physical signs of abuse that are visible to the naked eye are the easiest to recognize. Some signs that a form of physical nursing home abuse is occurring include:
- Significant weight loss, which could be a sign of malnutrition/improper medical care;
- Deterioration in health condition;
- Marks on wrists or ankles, which could be indicative of use of physical restraint;
- Torn clothing;
- Blood on clothing or undergarments;
- Poor hygiene.
The above may indicate that an elderly person is being denied the right medical treatment, nutrition, or level of care, or is being abused physically or sexually. Taking inappropriate photos of a resident, as has been documented in the past, constitutes physical and psychological abuse.
Signs of Emotional Abuse and Neglect
While physical abuse may be the type of abuse that is most jarring, it is by no means the only type of nursing home abuse that takes place. Emotional abuse, which may include taunting the resident, prohibiting the resident from engaging in social activities or seeing family, failing to provide the resident with companionship and care, and more may also occur. Some signs of emotional abuse and neglect, which may also be apparent when physical abuse is taking place, include:
- Anger and angry outbursts;
- Deterioration in health condition;
- Refusal to eat or receive medical treatment, including refusing to take medication;
- Fear of nursing home/nursing home staff; and
- Hesitancy to discuss nursing home life.
Emotional abuse can be just as detrimental as physical abuse, and can result in a deterioration of a resident’s condition to the point where serious illness or death occur.
Signs of Financial Exploitation
While it may not appear as obviously harmful to a resident’s condition, financial exploitation is a legitimate concern in a nursing home setting. In some cases, a nursing home staff member may try to take advantage of a resident by convincing the elderly person to add the staff member’s name to a bank account or credit card, to change their will or estate plan, or to withdraw large sums of money. Sometimes, a staff person may do these things without the elderly person knowing. Some ways to detect financial exploitation include:
- Large purchases on credit card/bank statements;
- Changes to any estate planning documents;
- Large cash withdrawals;
- Missing family heirlooms or valuables; and
- Opening new accounts.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse
Recognizing abuse can be very difficult, especially because no one wants to believe that someone they dearly love is a victim of abuse. The fact that nursing home abuse occurs at all can be shocking to accept – nursing homes can cost tens of thousands of dollars every year, and most patients and their families expect that they will receive the highest level of care.
If you do notice any of the above signs of nursing home abuse, it is important to act quickly to protect your loved one. If you believe that your loved one is at risk of imminent harm or death, you should call the police immediately. You should also report the abuse to your local Kentucky long-term care ombudsman.
To seek restitution for harm caused and to hold a nursing home liable for the abuse, calling an experienced Kentucky nursing home abuse attorney is the next step. At the offices of Slechter Law Firm, our attorneys are here to represent you and your loved one, and will work hard to obtain justice when nursing home abuse occurs. Contact us today at (502) 384-7400.