Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

With over 3 million elderly citizens currently living in a nursing home or assisted living, most individuals have a loved one residing in a facility of this nature. Sadly, these residents are extremely vulnerable to abuse from their caregivers. In fact, nearly 95% of long-term care residents who were polled identified themselves as victims or as witnesses to abuse and neglect. Even more alarming is the finding that 50% of nursing home staff members admit to having mistreated a patient.

All family members and loved ones of nursing home residents should be well-informed of the signs of nursing home abuse. These can include:

  • Open wounds or bed sores
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Chronic infections
  • Disappearance of personal items
  • Unaccounted for depletion of finances
  • Argumentative or fearful behavior toward nursing home staff
  • Inadequate explanation for an unexpected disability or death
  • Sleepiness or confusion not associated with a previously diagnosed condition
  • Delayed access to loved one or the refusal of a staff member to leave during a visit
  • Unexplained or sudden injuries including bruises, broken bones, cuts, abrasions, and burns
  • Patient withdrawal from normal activities, sudden change in mood, or other signs of depression

Nursing Home Abuse Takes Many Forms

Pervasive throughout the industry, nursing home abuse can happen in even the cleanest and most highly respected facilities. When you consider the lack of a nationwide employee screening guidelines, it is not surprising that 25% of aides prosecuted for nursing home abuse have a prior criminal record. Unfortunately, mistreatment, cruelty, and violence toward elderly patients is often unreported. Loved ones may be unaware of the signs and victims are frequently too frightened or unable to speak up.

Nursing home abuse can be subtle manipulation or outright brutality. The offender can be any employee, visitor, or even fellow resident of the facility. Types of abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial exploitation

Heeding the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The federal Nursing Home Reform Act establishes a nursing home resident’s right to remain free from inadequate care, neglect, or abuse. If a loved one has exhibited any of the above mentioned indicators of abuse, or if you have reason to suspect they are being victimized, you need to take immediate action.

All states have adult protective service agencies in addition to regional Medicaid ombudsmen that can assist you in citing the violating nursing home. Additionally, a personal injury attorney specializing in nursing home abuse can help enforce their rights to a safe and secure environment and provide information on how your loved one may receive compensation in a free attorney review of your case.