Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse often goes unnoticed or unidentified because residents may be unwilling or too scared to complain. In some cases, the signs are not always visible, particularly if a resident is suffering from verbal or emotional abuse or is being forcibly isolated.
Signs of nursing home abuse can include:
- Physical abuse: unusual bruising or bleeding, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns.
- Emotional abuse: sudden or unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness and unusual or unexpected depression.
- Sexual abuse: bruises around the breasts or genital area
- Neglect: wrongful death, bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
- Financial: disappearance of personal items, sudden and unusual financial transactions, changes in the resident’s will or power of attorney
Other signs of elder abuse and neglect include:
- Soiling, poor hygiene, smell of urine or feces
- Loss of hair
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding
- Infantile or strange behaviors
- Strained, tense relationships or frequent arguments between the resident and a caregiver
If you suspect abuse, stay alert and be vigilant about determining what may be going on if you notice changes in your loved one’s personality, behavior or physical condition.
If you suspect nursing home abuse is taking place, contact authorities by doing the following:
- Call 911 immediately and seek legal counsel if the abuse is severe.
- Contact the Elder Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116 and a trained operator will refer you to a local agency that can help.
- Contact the Adult Protective Services program in your state or local area.
- Consult the resident’s primary care doctor or another healthcare provider, social worker or elder care advocate.
When reporting the abuse, it is important to include specific details and observations.