A nursing home is supposed to provide support and care for an aging loved one. Unfortunately, as the number of individuals who need this care grows, so does the occurrence of nursing home abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, which is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, a study of nursing home residents in 2008 showed that 44 percent of residents claimed to have been abused and 95 percent claimed to have been neglected or seen another resident neglected. This statistic may be shocking, but for adults who have put their parents in a nursing home, there is something you can do. If you suspect that a parent has suffered from nursing home abuse, here are five signs to look for and investigate.
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse often appears in the form of unexplained bruises, cuts, or pain. Some accidental injuries are not unexpected, but if the injury cannot be explained or the story sounds suspicious, it might be abuse. Other forms can include physical restraints, or inappropriate drug usage.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is any behavior that causes distress in the victim. This could include yelling, threats, humiliation, or blaming for problems. An individual may also be isolated from the group or have their concerns ignored. Signs can include depression, withdrawal from the group, or generally skittish behavior.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse includes any contact that occurs without consent. In addition to physical acts, this can also include viewing pornography, watching others, or requiring the individual to undress. However, sexual abuse may be difficult to detect if the elder does not report it.
Neglect is the most common form of abuse, and often occurs unintentionally. The facility may be understaffed for the number of residents, or the staff may believe an individual does not need as much care as he or she really does. Signs include poor hygiene, bed sores, or malnutrition.
Exploitation of finances and healthcare may be done by medical professionals, nursing home staff, or an outside party. Elderly persons are particularly susceptible to identity fraud and scams. Healthcare fraud includes overcharging for services, not providing services that were paid, or recommending inappropriate treatments.
If you are worried about the care your elderly parent is receiving in a nursing home, contact an attorney for advice. Many cases go unnoticed because the abused individual either does not report the abuse or is not believed by loved ones. Mental health issues, like dementia, can affect an individual’s memory, but when in doubt, it is better to investigate and get the help you and your family need.
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