A nursing home in Boynton Beach, Florida, is the site of one of the most recent cases of elder abuse in a Palm Beach County facility. In the shocking case, police arrested three women who worked at the facility for having allegedly abused an elderly patient there.

Nursing home worker abuse is, unfortunately, all too common. This case illustrates some common factors that come into play in many similar cases in southern Florida nursing facilities.

Abuse by using restraints

One form of abuse that nursing home workers use is that of inappropriate and abusive restraints to try to quiet and/or immobilize a patient. In the Boynton Beach elder abuse case, the three workers allegedly put duct tape on the 67-year-old female patient’s mouth, and then tied her to a chair. The patient had dementia. One of the workers said she used the duct tape to prevent the woman from screaming. Police charged the women with elder abuse and false imprisonment.

Signs of elder abuse

Because elder abuse often occurs inpatient facilities, where a patients’ family members and friends are unable to observe and monitor activities on a daily basis, it can be difficult to know if workers are committing elder abuse. Abuse can take many different forms, which include signs of neglect as well. Some signs of abuse and neglect include falls, infections, malnutrition, dehydration, wandering and bedsores.

While these signs are not always indicative of abuse, they can certainly be red flags. Someone who suspects elder abuse should take action. The first thing to do is begin documenting the issues that suggest abuse or neglect. Photos, notes of conversations or reports from residents are examples of evidence. A long-term care ombudsman can conduct an official investigation to help uncover proof of wrongdoing. Anyone who witnesses abuse should notify the authorities immediately.