Elderly Lives Matter®

Warning Signs Of Abuse Or Neglect In Nursing Homes

When your loved one is in a professional care facility, you can’t keep an eye on them around the clock. That’s why they’re in a facility to begin with. However, in some unfortunate situations, nursing home abuse warning signs can start to surface. You might develop suspicions that your loved one is being mistreated or abused.

When you try to raise concerns, you might get brushed off. Staff members may even try to discourage you from visiting or shut you out. Meanwhile, because your loved one is suffering from physical and mental vulnerabilities, they might not be able to articulate what’s wrong.

How To Recognize Nursing Home Abuse

Identifying nursing home abuse may not be as simple as you expect it to be. Common physical warning signs of elder abuse include:

  • Bedsores: These injuries can initially appear to be bruises but can develop into major wounds if the neglect is prolonged.
  • Rapid weight loss: If the staff in a nursing home is not paying close enough attention to a resident to ensure they are eating or they are not properly feeding them, weight loss is soon to follow.
  • Unexplained bruises, fractures or other injuries: Many forms of physical abuse leave marks on the victim. Nursing home staff may try to convince a resident’s family that the injuries are the result of a fall or other accident.
  • Deteriorating health: When a resident is suffering from abuse or neglect, their health condition can worsen in many ways. Make sure not to dismiss these signs as symptoms of another condition your loved one already has.

The nursing home staff member who caused these injuries may even go as far as to limit the time you have with your loved one or supervise the visits to keep the resident from exposing the abuse. Make sure to keep a sharp eye out for these warning signs of elder neglect.

Nonphysical Symptoms Of Abuse Or Neglect

Not all elder abuse is physical. Identifying nursing home neglect is also important. Some of the emotional and mental nursing home neglect warning signs include:

  • Increasing isolation: A resident may begin hiding or isolating themselves to avoid abusive staff members in a nursing home.
  • Acting out or behaving in uncharacteristic ways: Abuse or neglect over a long period of time can change a normally upbeat and happy resident into someone more sullen or depressed.
  • Change in mental status: Some forms of harm can even cause a resident to become more confused or forgetful and even worsen mental conditions that were already present.
  • Lack of communication by staff: When staff members feel guilty about their actions or want to avoid suspicion for abuse or neglect, they may begin to limit communication with the resident and their family.

While it may be hard to see these signs of abuse or neglect, it is possible. Watch out for any irregularities in your loved one to help stop abuse or neglect as soon as possible.

The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse And Normal Accidents Or Illnesses

The elderly generally and nursing home residents in particular are more susceptible to accidents (like falling), injuries and illnesses than other population groups. Therefore, when injuries and illnesses occur in a nursing home, it is all too easy to dismiss them as inevitable. Unfortunately, such assumptions cause people to overlook evidence of nursing home abuse and neglect. They also provide convenient excuses for those who commit them.

The main difference between nursing home abuse/neglect and normal accidents/illnesses is intent. Abuse is the intent to cause harm, and neglect is an intentional indifference toward patient wellbeing. Abuse is often easier to identify because it is intentional. Neglect is harder to differentiate from normal accidents/illnesses, but both should be treated with concern.

Yes, nursing home residents are more susceptible to accidents and injuries. However, the entire purpose of nursing homes is to keep residents safe and to provide the additional care and support they need. It is worth asking questions when anything bad happens. The most important rule of thumb with any concern is to err on the side of caution, suspicion and further investigation.

Nursing Homes May Not Admit Wrongdoing

When you confront the staff at a nursing home about the warning signs of elder neglect or abuse, it is only natural for them to deny any accusation. They may try and convince you that any injuries were simply a mistake by the resident or that you do not have any legal authority to file a claim against them. Never make the mistake of taking these words at face value. Before giving up on seeking justice for your loved one, consult with one of our elder abuse attorneys to verify whether you have a case and what you can do to hold the liable party accountable for their actions.

Placing Responsibility Where It Belongs

At Ford, Dean & Rotundo, P.A., we understand how hard it is to place a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other care center. You only want what’s best for them. You’re horrified to think that they may now be suffering because of that decision.

However, it’s not your fault. Negligence and abuse can lurk behind even the most promising of facades when you’re looking at care facilities. Deep-seated problems may not come to light for months or even years.

Don’t Ignore Your Suspicions

If your loved one is showing any red flags of nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t stay silent. Our nursing home abuse lawyers will listen to your concerns and give them the weight they deserve. They can help you pursue an investigation and file a complaint with the appropriate agencies. If warranted, our lawyers can also file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and the facility itself. Please contact us to learn more about recognizing nursing home neglect.

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