Elderly Lives Matter
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Elderly Lives Matter
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Dementia patients can fall prey to various forms of abuse

When it became clear that your father was dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, you chose a facility near your home for his care.

He has been a resident there for six months. In the beginning, he seemed content and was doing as well as expected. Lately, however, you have noticed changes that point to possible abuse.

About cognitive disorders

People who have dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders require special care. They are vulnerable to neglect and various forms of abuse, and this can happen even in a nursing home or assisted living facility that has a fine track record. Staff members change, personal problems sometimes enter a person’s work life and a vulnerable resident could become the victim of abuse resulting from someone else’s issues.

Types of abuse

Perhaps you worry your father is becoming depressed or anxious. Is this a natural progression either from advancing age or Alzheimer’s itself? You cannot rule out harassment, intimidation or other forms of emotional abuse. Is your dad receiving proper medical care? Is he eating enough? Have there been personnel changes in the nursing home staff that may affect the level of care your father receives?

Red flags

Signs of possible abuse or neglect include the following:

  •         A change in level of alertness or withdrawal from normal activities
  •         Unexplained bruises, abrasions or pressure marks on the skin
  •         Unusual weight loss, bedsores or infection
  •         A change in your father’s financial situation, which may signal exploitation

People with cognitive disorders become easily confused. They cannot stand up for themselves in adverse circumstances or explain what may have gone wrong in their lives. Paying attention to changes is vital for family members.

Seeking help

Getting at the truth of what your father is going through may seem like an impossible task. You do not know how to begin. This is the time to explore your legal options and rely on the help of advocates experienced in protecting the rights of vulnerable patients who may encounter neglect or abuse.

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