How Do I Identify Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Nursing home facilities promise to provide safe and adequate care for their residents. However, this is not always the case. Nursing home abuse and or neglect are, unfortunately, common occurrences. It is estimated that 1 in 6 elderly patients suffer from nursing home abuse or neglect each year in the U.S.

There are 3 main types of nursing home abuse/neglect. These include:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Emotional abuse
  3. Sexual abuse

Nursing home residents are often too weak to defend themselves, and may suffer from mental handicaps that prevent them from speaking up about their abuse or neglect. Thus, it is important to have regular conversations with your family member to determine if he or she has been a victim of abuse or neglect. It is also important to visit so there can be accountability and so that there can be communication about treatment, medications, food and hydration, recreation, therapies, etc.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves punching, hitting, kicking, slapping, or taking other harmful actions against a nursing home resident. Furthermore, it can involve using physical restraints to keep the patient immobile. Unauthorized medication, such as sedatives, may also be used to immobilize a nursing home resident. Neglect can also be a type of physical abuse. For example, a failure to reposition a resident may result in pressure sores and infections.

Signs of physical abuse include:

  • Unexplained bruises or welts
  • Burns or lacerations
  • Changes in consciousness, such as listlessness (from improper medication)
  • Signs of restraints on the wrists and ankles
  • Broken eyeglasses

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can take many forms. Nursing home staff may belittle, yell at, threaten, or manipulate an elderly resident. When this happens, your loved one may suffer severe emotional symptoms. Unusual or antisocial behaviors, mood swings, and other psychological changes could alert you to emotional abuse.

Signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Fear of particular staff members
  • Withdrawal from staff and other residents
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Changes in cleanliness and grooming habits

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse may involve inappropriate and unwanted touching, rape, forced nudity, and sexual assault. Patients who are vulnerable, frail, and unable to defend themselves may be forced against their will to participate in sexual activities. Some may also have difficulty remembering what happened or identifying the perpetrator, making it difficult to find out who is responsible.

Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Unexplained genital infections
  • STDs
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn or bloody underwear
  • Bruising around the breasts and thighs
  • Agitation and panic attacks

How to Protect Your Elderly Loved One

You should make regular visits to the nursing home facility, both scheduled and unannounced. Come during meal times and observe how the staff interacts with the patients. In addition, you should have open and honest communication with your elderly loved one to discern whether abuse or neglect is taking place. If you suspect your family member is a victim, take him or her out of the facility immediately, inform the management, and file a police report.

Our Louisville Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Is Here to Help

At Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, we believe nursing home staff should be held accountable for abusing or neglecting residents. Our Louisville nursing home abuse lawyer has guided numerous clients through the Kentucky legal system. If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, we can tenaciously represent your case as you seek justice.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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