Elderly persons, especially those living in nursing homes or who require care on a daily basis, are a particularly vulnerable subset of the population. In fact, those who live in a nursing home may be so frail that they are unable to engage in self-care, requiring constant assistance to bathe, move, eat, or treat any medical conditions.
The fact that these residents are in a nursing home specifically because they require a high level of care is part of what makes nursing home abuse so shocking and disturbing. Despite how appalling nursing home abuse is, the National Council on Aging reports that an estimated one in 10 elderly Americans (age 60 and over) have experienced some form of elder abuse, a percentage of which occurs within a nursing home setting. If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, it is important that you know the five most common signs of nursing home abuse listed below–
- Signs of Physical Harm
Some of the most common signs of abuse are physical signs, such as bruises, cuts, lacerations, restraint marks (around wrists or ankles), scratches, or bite or burn marks. Any of these may be an indication that the nursing home resident is being physically or sexually abused.
- Emotional Changes
Another common sign of abuse is a change to an elderly person’s emotional state, such as new depression, anger, anxiety, or withdrawal. While these emotions and changes can be symptoms of many things, including certain health conditions, they are strongly associated with abuse. If a resident appears fearful of the nursing home or a particular staff member, this could be an additional indication that abuse is occurring.
- Physical Changes
Excluding obvious signs of physical abuse listed above, changes in a nursing home patient’s physical condition may also be a sign of abuse. Physical changes to look out for include an overall deterioration in condition, weight loss, or worsening of a health condition. If a resident doesn’t look like they are receiving proper care, chances are they’re not. You should also keep an eye out for bedsores, as these are completely preventable and are often a sign that a nursing home resident is not receiving the care they are entitled to and deserving of.
- Major Financial Changes
One form of nursing home abuse that isn’t talked about as often, but which certainly occurs, is financial exploitation. Financial abuse happens when a nursing home staff member takes advantage of a nursing home resident’s condition or position for financial gain. If major financial changes have occurred in your loved one’s life, such as taking out a loan, changing a will, opening new credit cards, or big cash withdrawals, financial abuse may be occurring.
- Poor Staff-to-Patient Ratio or High Turnover
Another thing to watch out for in a nursing home is a poor staff-to-patient ratio, or high turnover rates of staff members. While these things do not always mean that abuse is occurring, constantly training new staff members may mean that there is not a person who knows your loved one’s needs well, and that your loved one is not getting proper care as such. A poor staff-to-patient ratio also means that staff is constantly busy, and that supervision may be lacking; both of these factors increase the risk of neglect or abuse.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Near You
If you do suspect that nursing home abuse is occurring, you should report the abuse to the nursing home manager or supervisor immediately, and seek more information about how to report the abuse to the proper state agency. If your elderly loved one has suffered harm, bringing forth a nursing home abuse claim may also be a consideration.
At the law firm of bailey, Javins, & Carter L.C., our West Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of elderly persons in our state, especially those who are relying on nursing home care. If abuse has occurred, we will advocate for your family, helping you and your loved one to recover the compensation that’s deserved. Please visit our lawyers in person today, send us an email, or call us directly at 800-497-0234 to schedule your free consultation.