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Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes: A Comprehensive Guide for Families

Families often turn to nursing homes or long-term care facilities to provide around-the-clock care and support for their loved ones who require assistance with daily activities or medical needs. However, reports of abuse and neglect in nursing homes have become increasingly common, raising concerns about the safety and well-being of residents.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of abuse in nursing homes. We’ll also share how to recognize the signs of abuse and what steps families can take to protect their loved ones.

1. Physical Abuse

You might imagine it would be easy to see signs of physical abuse on your loved one’s body. However, this isn’t always the case.

Physical abuse in nursing homes involves the purposeful use of force or violence that creates any kind of bodily harm, injury, or pain to a resident. This can include hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, or restraining residents against their will.

Some of the signs of physical abuse may include unexplained bruises, cuts, fractures, or other injuries, as well as changes in behavior such as fearfulness or withdrawal.

Family members should be vigilant in monitoring their loved one’s physical condition. Report any signs of abuse to the nursing home administration and authorities immediately.

2. Emotional or Psychological Abuse

This is sometimes more common in nursing homes than physical abuse since it’s easier to hide from the other family members.

Emotional or psychological abuse in nursing homes involves behaviors that inflict mental anguish, distress, or intimidation on residents. This can include verbal threats, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or manipulation.

Signs of emotional abuse may include unexplained changes in mood or behavior, social withdrawal, fearfulness, or signs of depression or anxiety. Try to pay attention to your loved one’s emotional well-being and intervene if they notice any signs of distress or mistreatment.

3. Financial Exploitation

You might have already thought of this and given yourself the power of attorney due to your loved one’s deteriorating mental or physical health. Still, financial exploitation may occur at the nursing home when a caregiver or staff member improperly or illegally uses a resident’s financial resources or assets for their gain.

This can include theft, fraud, forgery, coercion, or undue influence. Signs of financial exploitation may include:

  • Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Missing personal belongings or valuables
  • Sudden changes in financial documents or power of attorney
  • Unauthorized changes to wills or trusts

It’s imperative to closely monitor loved one’s financial accounts and documents and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities. The annual loss of victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion! It’s important to not ignore this aspect of elder abuse.

4. Neglect

You are probably paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars, for your loved one’s stay in the nursing home. But sometimes caregivers fail to provide residents with the care, supervision, or services necessary to ensure their health, safety, and well-being.

This neglect can include neglecting basic needs such as food, water, medication, hygiene, or assistance with mobility. Signs of neglect may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Sedation care
  • Untreated medical conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Bedsores
  • Unsanitary living conditions

That’s why it’s important to regularly visit your loved one in the nursing home and observe their living conditions and care to ensure that their needs are being met.

If you do notice any signs of neglect, move your loved one out of the nursing home and contact an attorney right away so you can get compensated for it.

5. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in nursing homes involves any unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact or activity between a resident and a caregiver, staff member, or another resident. This can include rape, sexual assault, molestation, or any other form of sexual misconduct.

Signs of sexual abuse may include unexplained injuries to the genital area, sexually transmitted infections, changes in behavior or mood, or signs of fearfulness or anxiety around certain individuals.

This might be a difficult conversation to have with your loved one, but it’s important to be aware of the risk of sexual abuse in nursing homes and take steps to protect their loved ones from harm.

6. Medication Errors

If your loved one is ill or dealing with some chronic illnesses, they might be on several medications.

Medication errors occur when residents receive the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, or medications that interact harmfully with each other. This can result in serious health complications, adverse reactions, or even death.

Signs of medication errors may include unexplained changes in health or behavior, worsening of existing medical conditions, or failure to improve despite treatment.

Family members should ensure that nursing home staff are properly administering medications and monitor their loved one’s medication regimen closely.

7. Social Isolation

You might have placed your loved one into a nursing home because you wanted to prevent them from getting bored and lonely at home all by themselves. However, this social isolation can occur in an abusive nursing home as well.

It occurs when residents are intentionally or unintentionally isolated from social interaction, companionship, or meaningful activities. This can have detrimental effects on residents’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being, leading to loneliness, depression, and a decline in cognitive function.

Signs of social isolation may include withdrawal from social activities, lack of engagement with others, or expressions of loneliness or sadness. Make sure to advocate for programs and activities that promote socialization and connection in the nursing home or move them to another one that provides more social stimulation.

Get Help for the Different Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes

Don’t try to deal with the different types of abuse in nursing homes by yourself. It’s important to speak to an elder abuse lawyer right away so they can guide you to the best next steps.

The David Bell Law Firm is dedicated to helping clients get compensation when injured by the negligent acts of others. We will ensure your elderly loved one doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of negligent nursing home staff any longer. Contact us to ask any questions you might have.

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