Red flags for nursing home abuse

In your loved one's final years, you want them to have a safe and comfortable place to live. You know that they need the type of daily care that you simply cannot provide. You want them to feel secure, comforted and relaxed. That's why you put them in a nursing home that you felt checked all of the boxes.

Unfortunately, the reality is that nursing homes are often hotbeds for abuse and neglect. The elderly are fragile and vulnerable, which can make them targets. They may also struggle with mental and emotional issues as their bodies succumb to things like dementia and other mental disorders. In some cases, they cannot or will not talk about the abuse.

As a loving family member, you want to know what red flags to watch out for and what steps to take when you see them. Some potential signs of abuse include the following:

1. The same injury happens again and again

Maybe your loved one fell and injured their arm. They had it in a sling for a while and recovered, and you thought it was just an unfortunate event. It may have been, but, if it keeps happening repeatedly, that's a serious red flag. Either the nursing home is neglecting them and allowing it to happen or some type of direct abuse is leading to those injuries.

2. No one can explain the injuries in the first place

Perhaps you noticed a bruise on a weekend visit. The next weekend, you spotted a small cut. After that, you saw a burn mark or active bleeding. When no one has an answer -- including your loved one -- that's a massive red flag. Yes, people do get hurt accidentally, but someone typically knows the story behind it -- especially if it keeps happening.

3. When you ask your loved one to go to the doctor, they don't want to go

Many elderly people who suffer from abuse feel ashamed about it. They don't want to talk about it. They may have been manipulated into thinking it was their own fault. They may feel self-conscious because they want to be independent and it is clear that they need help. Whatever the reason, if they do not want to go to the doctor or get treatment when they need it, you should probably dig a bit deeper into exactly what happened and how it happened.

Your options

By no means are these all of the potential red flags, but they do give you a good place to begin. As noted above, it's important to know what steps to take if you think that abuse has occurred, as you need to protect a vulnerable loved one who may not be able to do so on their own.

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O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC
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