It’s a sad fact, but nursing home abuse happens. The abuse is happening at the hands of those who we trust with our loved ones. If you suspect that one of your loved ones is experiencing nursing home abuse it is important to speak up and be a voice for them. As people get older they are less able to stand up to bullies or to fight back if attacked so it’s important to learn about the signs of both abuse and neglect that do occur in nursing homes.
Types of abuse in the nursing home are:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse is the use of non-accidental force against the elder resulting in injury, physical pain, and/or impairment. This abuse does not only include physical assaults such as shoving or hitting, but inappropriate use of restraints, drugs, or confinement.
- Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse or psychological abuse is when someone treats or speaks to an elderly person in a way that causes emotional pain and/or distress.
Verbal forms of emotional abuse in elders include:
- Ridicule and/or humiliation
- Imitation through threats and yelling
- Blaming and/or scapegoating
Nonverbal psychological abuse in elders can take the form of:
- Isolating the elder from their friends, family, activities
- Terrorizing the elderly person
- Ignoring the elderly person
- The caregiver might misuse the senior’s credit cards, bank accounts, or personal checks
- Steal money, household items, or any incoming monies
- Forge the senior’s signature
- Steal the senior’s identity
- Sexual abuse: Believe it or not, sexual abuse in the nursing home without the seniors consent does happen. Sexual abuse can include the actual physical act of sex, or activities such as showing the senior pornographic material, forcing the senior to undress, and/or forcing the senior to watch acts of sex are all considered sexual abuse.
- Abandonment or neglect by their caregivers: More than half of all the reported cases of nursing home abuse involve failure to full a caretaking obligation. Nursing home neglect can be active, which is intentional, or passive, which is unintentional, such as denial or ignorance that a senior needs the care that he/she does.
- Financial exploitation: Financial exploitation of a senior involves the unauthorized use of a senior’s personal property or funds, which can be from a family member, nursing home caregiver, or outside scam artist.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF NUSRSING HOME ABUSE AND NEGLECT
General warning signs of abuse in the nursing home are:
- Tension and/or frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
- A change in the behaviour or personality of the elder.
It is difficult to recognize or take serious signs of elder abuse. You may think them as signs of dementia or signs of the person’s frailty, or the caregiver will tell you it is. Since many of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse can and do overlap with symptoms of mental deterioration, it is important that you do not just dismiss them because the caregiver says so.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE:
- Unexplained signs of injury such as welts, scars, and bruises
- Marks on wrists, which are signs of being restrained
- The refusal by the caregiver in allowing you to see the senior alone
- Broken bones, dislocations, or sprains
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE:
- Threatening, controlling, or belittling behaviour by the caregiver witnessed by you
- Elder behaviour that mimics dementia such as sucking, rocking back and forth, and/or mumbling to oneself
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
- Bruising around genitals and/or breast area
- Unexplained genital infections or venereal diseases
- Unexplained anal or vaginal bleeding
- Stained, torn, or bloodied underwear
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF NURSING HOME NEGLECT:
- Unexplained weight loss, dehydration, and/or malnutrition
- Untreated problems such as bed sores
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Being left dirty
- Unsafe living conditions
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION:
- Large withdrawals from the senior’s bank accounts
- Sudden unexplained change in the senior’s financial situation
- Cash missing
- Unexplained changes to documents such as power of attorney, policies, titles, and/or wills
- Financial activity the senior could not have done, such as withdrawals from an ATM machine due to being bedridden
- Unnecessary services, subscriptions, or goods
Don’t let nursing home neglect or abuse go unreported. If you know or suspect a loved one or family member is being abused or neglected in a nursing home you need to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable and specializes in nursing home abuse.