Nursing home abuse is a serious problem throughout the United States. We could list statistics showcasing known instances of abuse, but the truth is that most nursing home abuse statistics fall short of reality. The numbers from government agencies and other sources are decades behind. Instead, we want to empower friends, family members, and other visitors to take meaningful action when they suspect instances of abuse.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse and elder abuse encompass a range of abusive behaviors. Nursing home and visitors may financially, physically, emotionally, and sexually abuse residents. In many cases, no one notices these abusive behaviors. Nursing home residents may not advocate for themselves the way they once did, and family members often overlook the subtle signs of abuse. They may associate unreasonable comments with dementia and poor judgment.
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior living centers, and visitors can all learn to recognize the signs of abuse and mistreatment. When caregiving facilities fail to act, family members and friends can take steps to protect their loved ones from unfair and abusive behaviors. Some of the most common warning signs of abuse include:
- Physical changes. Unexplained bruises, fractures, lacerations, bedsores, and other injuries may indicate improper care. Any unusual physical symptom may indicate more than routine carelessness. Always ask questions and investigate the cause of unexplained injuries in nursing home residents.
Some people associate abuse with proactive abusive behaviors. In reality, neglect plays a crucial role in nursing home abuse cases. Failing to feed, clean, or treat nursing home residents may all constitute acts of negligent care.
- Mental changes. Many abused nursing home residents feel compelled to hide the experience from loved ones. They may refuse to interact with certain staff members, change their personalities in front of certain individuals, or stop talking to anyone about their experiences in the nursing home.
These and other mental changes in loved ones may indicate abusive behaviors, including intimidation, withdrawal, and fear. Always investigate mental changes among nursing home residents to rule out abusive practices.
- Financial changes. One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial abuse. Seemingly helpful and friendly individuals may approach senior citizens with seemingly above-board opportunities. If you notice a loved one agreeing to unreasonable investments or financial changes, ask questions. Talk to your loved ones, caretakers, and the facility to understand the financial ties your loved one makes with others.
While these red flags are the most common signs of abuse, any unnatural and unexpected behavior may indicate abuse. Discuss these indicators with family members, nursing home facilities, and legal representatives to determine the best path forward in your case.
Lodging a Nursing Home Abuse Complaint
If you suspect or witness nursing home abuse, you can take steps to protect your loved one:
- Talk to facility staff members. Let the facility know about your concerns. In some cases, the facility may not know about the abusive actions of one staff member.
- Contact a primary care physician. Talk to your loved one’s physician about care, diagnoses, and expected behaviors.
- Report abuse. Contact 800-677-1116 to locate eldercare representatives throughout the United States. In California, you can reach out to the Bureau of Medical Fraud and Elder abuse at 800-722-0432 to submit a complaint.
- Talk to an attorney. If you have witnessed serious and severe injuries due to nursing home neglect and abuse, consider speaking with a local attorney about your legal options.
Nursing home abuse is a problem across the country. The situation will only change as more people step forward to hold abusive caretakers accountable. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering abuse at the hands of a nursing home employee, take action. You may save your loved one’s life.