Groups such as the U.S. Administration on Aging and the National Center on Elder Abuse have long studied elder neglect and abuse that has taken place in long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and nursing homes or nursing home. They are capable of identifying the major factors that imply a resident has been subjected to neglect or abuse in such care.
So to be clear, abuse can range anywhere from financial, psychological/emotional, sexual, or physical abuse. Neglect constitutes the withholding of protection, health care, shelter, or food that a vulnerable individual requires a caregiver to offer. Significant nursing home abuse and neglect signs one should act on could be:
- The resident complains of negligence or abuse – It’s important to take such complaints seriously. Take into consideration the specifics to make sure the evidence correlates with the complaint.
- Behavioral changes – If you’re noticing changes in their behavior or alertness, take note. Whether it includes signs of fear, becoming uncommunicative, or withdrawal from any activity they enjoyed previously, it’s important to consider.
- Agitation – If there’s agitation around residents or nursing home staff, they may be suffering abuse.
- Reluctance – If staff have become reluctant to let you be alone or see a resident, they may be suffering abuse.
If a nursing home fails to fulfill any portion of their contractual obligations (otherwise known as legal duties), it is known as a sign of neglect. Negligence signs include:
- Malnutrition – If someone is having difficulty absorbing nutrients or isn’t receiving enough food, they may be suffering from malnutrition. Individuals suffering from malnutrition have physical weakness, meaning that they become prone to developing infections, falling, or suffering from other medical problems.
- Dehydration – Dehydration can be caused by lack of liquid intake, certain medications, illness, or malnutrition.
- Bedsores – Whether it be called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bedsores are known as open wounds that are often caused by sitting still or lying in bed for significant lengths of time (such as sitting in a wheelchair or lying in a bed). If an individual is in a nursing home under care, it should not occur.
- Infections – Bedsores or other open wounds left untreated are likely to become infected, yet most infections from nursing homes happen due to negligent cleaning or sanitation. Infections (if left untreated) can lead to death, pulmonary arrest, or shock if left untreated.
- Errors with Medication – If an incorrect dose is administered, it can lead to far reaching problems that are much more serious.
- Hygiene Decline – Whether it be inadequate clothing, urine/fecal smells, or soiled bedding, these are all significant indicators that an individual isn’t receiving proper care.
Physical Abuse Signs
Physical force that leads to impairment, physical pain, or bodily injury is physical abuse. Be on the lookout for signs such as:
- Inadequate or unexplained injury such as internal injury/bleeding, broken bones, dislocations, sprain, burns, welts, cuts, bruises, or black eyes.
- Signs of restraint, such as burns or rope marks. Look to see if there are signs of used restraint, such as rope, straps, belts, etc.
- Look for broken hearing aids, broken frames/glasses, etc.
Sexual Abuse Signs
Sexual abuse constitutes sexual contact of any kind that was non-consensual and/or sexual contact with an individual who is unable to consent. Sexual abuse also includes photography. Signs of sexual abuse include:
- Bruises around the breasts, anus, or genital areas.
- Genital infection or venereal diseases.
- Anal or vaginal bleeding.
- Bloody, stained, or torn bedclothes or underwear.
Emotional/psychological abuse consists of verbal or nonverbal distress, pain, or anguish. If the elderly individual is experiencing harassment, humiliation, intimidation, threats, insults, verbal assaults, or is being given the silent treatment, it’s likely they’re a victim of emotional/psychological abuse.
Considering the information above, there are quite a few red flags one can spot in the event you think an elderly individual is being abused in care. Thankfully, we’re here in the event you need a compassionate nursing home lawyer if that’s the case. Contact us today for further information!
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