Nursing home residents have equal rights to all other Americans, and they deserve to age with dignity. Unfortunately, some of them fall victim to horrific acts of neglect and abuse. Some of these heinous acts go unreported due to embarrassment, fear, or because the nursing home resident is unable to communicate effectively. If you notice or suspect that a nursing home resident is neglected and abused, report the issue immediately.
Keep in mind that some of the normal aging and some signs of chronic health conditions might resemble abuse. For example, balance problems increase the risk of falls, some health issues can increase the patient’s susceptibility to bleeding, and low ability to heal is associated with medical problems like diabetes.
This doesn’t mean that signs of abuse should be ignored. Nursing home neglect and abuse are serious crimes that might worsen with time or even cause fatalities. Thus, it’s important to know the signs of abuse and report these issues to the authorities.
Signs of abuse in nursing homes
Abuse in assisted living facilities can be clearly evident or sometimes subtle. Some residents may not admit to what has been happening and start to withdraw. Others may withdraw from conversations about neglect and abuse. Here are other signs of abuse that you should know.
- Bedsores can be prevented. If you ever realize that your loved one has bedsores, that’s an indication that they are not being moved during the day.
- Unexplained diseases and infections.
- Bruises or wounds that bleed. While accidents may cause some bruises, they can also be a sign of neglect or abuse.
- Changes in behavior. Someone who has suffered abuse or neglect is likely to be overly aggressive, appear depressed, or withdraws whenever an attendant or staff is nearby.
- Poor hygiene. Assisted living facilities are supposed to help older adults to live a good life. If you realize that your loved one is living in a dirty environment, that’s a sign of neglect.
- Unexplained weight loss and dehydration.
Financial-related problems and unexplained change to the patient’s will could be a sign of financial exploitation. If the patient has updated their will to leave their estate, money, and other belongings to someone who isn’t their relative, try to get more details about these changes.
Document the issue and report to the authorities
Now that you know the signs of abuse, you can easily know when someone is being neglected or abused in a nursing home. You can take pictures using your cell phone camera or a traditional camera. For example, you can take photos showing bedsores, unexplained injuries, dirty environment, and other signs of neglect and abuse.
It’s also important to write what you see every time you visit your loved one. Talk to them and find out what goes on in the facility. Has someone threatened the resident? Do the patients get their meals on time? You will need these details when reporting the issue to the authorities.
Though the medical professionals and other social workers are supposed to report all suspected nursing home abuse cases, you don’t have to wait for them to do so. If you suspect the resident has sustained life-threatening abuse, you must call 911.
Nursing home abuse issues can also be reported to the state authorities. Remember, you should give a detailed explanation of the specific signs that you saw and evidence. This is why you should try as much as you can to document all the signs of abuse that you notice every time you visit your loved one in a nursing home.