According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 17 percent of individuals age 60 and older suffered some type of abuse in community settings over the past year. Institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities have high rates of nursing home abuse, with two of three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year. The incidence of elder abuse has also increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sadly, elder abuse can lead to a range of severe physical injuries as well as long-term psychological consequences. In some cases, the injuries that result can even be fatal. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care facility, it’s imperative that you are aware of and on the lookout for the signs of nursing home abuse. Suppose you suspect that your family member is being victimized. In that case, you can explore your rights with an experienced Biloxi nursing home abuse attorney from Van Cleave Law.
Signs of Physical, Emotional, Sexual, and Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes
Physical abuse is what most people think of when they hear about elder or nursing home abuse. The signs of physical abuse are often much more obvious than other types of elder abuse in the nursing home setting.
Signs of nursing home physical abuse can include:
- Numerous broken bones—potentially from being restrained, pushed, dropped, or physically battered. Although older adults can fracture their hips, wrists, and elbows from accidental falls, experienced doctors and other medical professionals can identify the difference between fractures caused by falls and those caused by an assault. For example, some are spiraling fractures instead of breaking straight across.
- Bruises, welts, cuts, rug burns, and scrapes—Typically from being restrained, grabbed, or having an object used against or on them. Pay close attention to the wrists, ankles, and upper arms. These areas are easy to grab onto and restrain an elderly nursing home resident.
- Broken property— Such as broken eyeglasses from being abused or struck across the face. Dentures can also become broken for the same reasons.
- Socially withdrawing—Often, if elderly individuals are physically abused, particularly those with cognitive decline, they might withdraw from others out of fear. For example, sudden changes in behavior, including withdrawal from social settings, could be a sign of physical abuse or fear of abuse.
- Being scared or startled easily – if a resident has been assaulted physically, he or she might be constantly hyper-alert as a way of protecting against further injury. As such, they may seem jumpy or easily startled by any sudden movements or loud noises.
- While some signs of physical abuse in nursing home residents are readily apparent, others can be easily explained away as some kind of accidental injury. As such, it’s essential to look for recurring signs, as well as signs of other types of abuse that could potentially be concurrently happening with physical abuse.
The symptoms of emotional abuse in the elderly can be harder to detect but are just as crucial to identify in order to protect your loved one against harm.
Signs of emotional elder abuse include:
- Drastic behavioral changes: Emotional abuse can also trigger elderly individuals to withdraw from social activities. Individuals who face emotional abuse tend to avoid social situations out of stress and low self-esteem.
- Being scared or afraid of being left alone: Emotional abuse may cause some nursing home residents to fear being left alone because they feel like they might hurt themselves or die. If the elderly individual is averse to being alone with one specific caretaker, it could also indicate a red flag.
- New onset of repetitive behaviors: If a resident exhibits repetitive actions such as rocking back and forth, sucking a thumb, or mumbling to oneself, they are exhibiting a common sign of emotional abuse.
- Refusal to take medication: If the resident begins to refuse to take medication, it might be a response to abuse.
Sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident, no matter their gender, age, or background.
Signs of sexual abuse include:
- Bruises around or on the breasts and genitals
- A new onset diagnosis of venereal diseases and infections
- Underwear that is stained or torn
- Vaginal or anal bleeding
- Social withdrawal, self-isolation, and outbursts of anger
Nursing home residents are unfortunately at high risk for financial abuse.
Signs of financial abuse include:
- Unexplained spending
- Inability to remember some expenses
- Signing up for subscriptions or programs that require recurring monthly payments
- Donating to unknown charities or unregistered causes
- Receiving bills for unexpected expenses such as additional medical or care costs
- They report that their credit cards, checkbook, cash, or personal documents are missing
- Suddenly begins hoarding papers and becoming secretive
Nursing Home Abuse Defined
Nursing home abuse occurs when facility employees harm residents of these long-term care facilities. Both intentional and unintentional harm can be classified as abuse. Depending on the type and extent of abuse, it can result in medical emergencies, trauma, and unfortunately, death.
Sadly, nursing home abuse is prevalent because of issues like improper training, short staffing, and burnout. These factors and others can cause staff to take out their anger on the people they should care for or prevent them from responding to urgent situations like falls or strokes.
There are steps you can take if an elderly individual you know suffers from nursing home abuse. First, you can and need to keep them safe by reporting any suspected or known abuse to proper authorities, such as local law enforcement, Adult Protective Services (APS), or a lawyer. In addition, you can also pursue monetary compensation to pay for your loved one’s medical care and their other damages.
Does Your Loved One Exhibit Any of These Concerning Signs? Speak with a Biloxi Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer As Soon As Possible
Don’t waste time if you notice any of these signs of nursing home abuse or others that are concerning. The longer you wait, the longer your loved one will be in danger with their health and well-being at risk. Reach out to local law enforcement, report it to the nursing home, and seek legal counsel. Nursing home abuse is never acceptable, no matter how overworked or understaffed a long-term care home is. It takes people like you to stand up and speak out when something seems suspicious to stop the cycle of abuse.
Nursing home victims and their loved ones have a right to full and fair compensation for their injuries and damages. A Biloxi nursing home attorney at Van Cleave Law will thoroughly investigate the incident and strive to hold all responsible parties accountable.
If you feel a loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse, and would like to understand your rights and options, call Van Cleave Law today at (228) 432-7826 or contact us online today to schedule a confidential no-obligation case consultation.