Identifying Elder Abuse

Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on May 20, 2015 in Nursing Home Abuse News

Placing an elderly loved one into nursing home care is painful and stressful. Nobody wants to admit that they cannot care for someone so close to them. Those placed into the homes are often full of resentment, feeling abandoned and unwanted. These feelings can be even worse when your loved one is the victim of elder abuse. Here are some important things to look for when identifying nursing home abuse, and what you should do if you think your elderly relative or spouse is such a victim.

Why You Need to Watch

As people become older and less robust, they are also not as able to defend themselves against bullies, attackers or neglectful care workers. They feel scared and helpless, which leads to anger, depression, and feelings of hopelessness. Often, their more able-bodied and able-minded loved ones are in the best position to notice the symptoms of abuse. With over 500,000 reports of elder abuse annually in the United States alone, it is vital that we watch for the victimization of our senior population. It is estimated that millions of these cases every year go unreported. This is why it is important to watch for the signs.

General Signs and Signals

Not all abuse is physical or will show signs like broken bones or bruising. Abuse can be invisible as well, including mental and even sexual abuse. Regardless of the type of abuse being suffered, there are generally red flags for which you should remain on the lookout. The biggest red flags involve sudden and marked personality shifts -- if a normally affectionate and happy person becomes sad, depressed or prone to fits of temper, this can be an indicator of underlying problems. If your loved one is showing shifts in mood or personality, you may want to dig deeper as to the root cause.

Specific Types of Abuse

There are signs of specific types of abuse that can signal an elder who needs help. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Physical Abuse: look for unexplained bruises, welts, scars, broken bones, sprains or other injuries; reports of abuse or refusal of medication; caregivers refusing to allow your alone time with your loved one.
  • Mental/Emotional Abuse: Personality and mood shifts; threatening, manipulative or controlling caregiver behavior; dementia-like behavior on the part of the senior.
  • Sexual Abuse: Genital bruising; venereal disease or genital infections; unexplained bleeding from genital or anal regions; torn or stained bedclothes or undergarments.
  • Neglect and Fraud: Weight loss; malnutrition; bed sores; dehydration; unsanitary conditions; lack of bathing; hazardous living conditions such as fire risks, no heat, lack of hot running water, etc.; desertion; double-billing to insurance; over- or under-medication

What to Do

If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, it is vital that you contact a qualified personal injury attorney to explore your options. Contacting a lawyer in these cases is not a sign that you are being greedy or litigious; you are doing what you have to do to protect your loved ones. A lawyer can help get you compensation for your senior relative's injuries, can help relocate them to a better facility, and can take great steps in defending your family against abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one have been the victim of elder abuse in a Nevada nursing home, give us a call for a free consultation today.