Every nursing home resident deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. However, nursing home staff and aides often fail to uphold their duty of care. As a result, many vulnerable adults will suffer. But how can you tell if your family member is a victim of abuse?
It doesn’t always look the same
Nursing home abuse can come in many forms. So can the signs. Here are 5 to watch for:
- Bedsores: Does your family member have skin discoloration on their ankles, shoulder blades, buttocks or the back of their neck? If so, those might be bedsores. Bedsores occur when older adults sit or lay in one position for too long, causing them to develop pressure ulcers. Bedsores happen when nursing home aides neglect to reposition residents when they’ve been in one position for too long. If bedsores aren’t treated, the wound can travel beneath the skin and potentially cause a dangerous infection.
- Physical wounds: Does your family member have unexplained welts, cuts or broken bones? Those can all be signs of physical abuse. While physical abuse is usually more apparent than other types, it’s often the most heinous form of mistreatment your family member can endure.
- Dehydration/malnutrition: Does your family member look like they’ve lost too much weight? Do they seem more tired than usual? Or do they have little interest in eating or drinking water? Those can be signs of dehydration and malnourishment. Nursing home aides should be checking in on your family member regularly and following their dietary charts. And if they’re not, this neglect can put your family member in a very vulnerable and unhealthy position.
- Mental health issues: Is your once happy-go-lucky family member consistently feeling anxious, moody or depressed? If so, they may be a victim of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can occur when staff threaten, yell at or belittle a resident. Emotional abuse is often the most common type in nursing homes. The World Health Organization states that around 32% of nursing home staff admitted emotionally abusing nursing home residents in the past year.
- Missing money/valuables: Is your family member receiving unusually high credit card bills? Have their expensive valuables gone missing? Or is their bank account completely empty? If so, they may be facing financial abuse. This type of abuse can be difficult to identify, especially if you can’t access your loved one’s financial accounts.
Your family member deserves safe living conditions
Aging parents and family members deserve to live in a safe and caring environment. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to relocate to a new home. Waiting lists and steep costs are real barriers. If you suspect your loved one is being abused at the hands of nursing home aides and staff, start documenting potential signs. Compiling this evidence can help strengthen your case if you take legal action.