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Look for These Signs of Elder Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes

If you have a loved one receiving care in their home or a nursing facility, it’s essential to watch for potential signs of elder abuse. Every person deserves the right to a safe, comfortable living situation. But, unfortunately, there are times when a person falls victim to various types of elder abuse.

Elder Abuse Statistics You Need to Know

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 in 6 people over the age of 60 experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year.

These rates are high in care facilities and institutions, including long-term care facilities and nursing homes. In fact, 2 in 3 staff members at these types of facilities report that they contributed to nursing home abuse in the past year.

Elder neglect and abuse has always been a problem. But the risk is continuing to increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some facilities are short-staffed, and many medical workers are under higher levels of stress. As a result, these conditions are impacting the quality of care offered to patients.

The aging population continues to grow, which means the risk for abuse will continue to increase. WHO estimates that the 60+ population will double – from 900 million aging adults in 2015 to just over 2 billion in the year 2050.

Clear Signs of Elder Abuse

Specific signs of nursing home abuse are obvious. When these symptoms are present, then family members don’t question the decision to address the issue. The most apparent signs of elder abuse include:

  • Physical injury, including bruises, cuts, bedsores, or broken bones
  • Problems with prescription drug dosages, such as a prescription bottle with missing pills
  • Unsanitary conditions, such as smells and personal hygiene issues
  • Unexplained infections or chronic health issues that aren’t resolving
  • Signs of restraint, such as wrists with rope marks

Also, look for changes in the behavior between the patient and their caregiver. If tension or arguments are increasing, then it could be a broad sign of abuse.

The most common signs of elder abuse fall in the “physical” category of abuse. The symptoms are apparent and unexplained, indicating questionable behaviors happening between caregivers and the patient.

Subtle Signs of Elder Abuse

Someone doesn’t need to have a visible bruise to show they are the victim of elder abuse. Other categories of abuse aren’t as obvious, including emotional abuse, financial abuse, or sexual abuse.

In fact, it’s common for signs of abuse to be quite subtle. If you don’t see the family member every day, you might not notice the changes in behavior and activities. Loved ones should always be proactive about watching for these subtle signs of abuse:

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Quietness (more than usual)
  • Fidgety behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Physical or emotional withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Fear or worry about staff members
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Self-demeaning comments
  • Lack of interest in food and hobbies
  • Change in financial transactions
  • Missing personal possessions, without explanation
  • Difference between caregiver complaints and the behavior you see
  • You aren’t allowed to be alone with the patient

These signs of elder abuse are usually slow. So, look for nuances that might indicate that something is happening behind the scenes. Then, you can be proactive in taking the necessary steps to protect your loved one.

What To Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

How should you proceed if you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse? It doesn’t matter what type of abuse is happening – the most important thing is that you take action as soon as possible.

When you notice the red flags of potential elder abuse, then now is the time to act. Waiting could result in more severe abuse or injuries. Don’t attempt a DIY investigation. Instead, contact the authorities and provide as much information as possible.

If you are an elder who is the victim of abuse, it’s best to tell at least one trusted person. Talk to a close family member, your doctor, or a friend who can help you. Another option is to call a helpline for elder abuse support.

If you suspect someone else is a victim of abuse, then talk to the authorities about your concerns. Continue watching for signs of abuse and report them if these issues continue. The more information you offer through the abuse report, the better chance the victim will receive the quality care they need.

The National Institute on Aging is an excellent resource if you need to report elder abuse. Visit their website to access contact information for various organizations that help abuse victims and their families.

Watching Out for Our Seniors

Keep in mind that many seniors don’t report abusive situations, even if they are able to communicate about the problems. Sometimes, the person fears retaliation, or they are worried about the need to move to another location.

So, family members, friends, and neighbors can help address issues that are arising. Watch out for your loved ones, and don’t hesitate to seek support when needed.

When to Hire an Elder Abuse Attorney?

Your family deserves legal support if elder abuse is occurring. The applicable laws are complicated, and an attorney can help you navigate the process to protect your loved ones. If abuse goes unaddressed, then it could turn into a dangerous situation.

Elder abuse legal services are available for a variety of situations, including legal advice, long-term care, health and wellness, care center services, quality of life, and more.

Not only does an elder abuse attorney assist with the legal steps that you should follow when abuse occurs. But the attorney can also help with other applicable legal topics, such as designating a power of attorney and estate law.

When you need legal services, call our pro team at Wormington & Bollinger. We offer full-service solutions for you and your family. In addition to elder abuse support, we can also assist personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and more. Learn more by contacting us to schedule a consultation.