Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse or neglect

One of the most difficult decisions an adult child faces is deciding if their elderly parent needs a higher level of care than they can provide. While there may be a certain level of guilt, they realize that professional nursing staff members can meet their loved one’s needs.

And a majority of skilled nursing employees give their residents care, love and understanding. They genuinely enjoy the work they do. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Therefore, you must know what to look for if you believe your loved one is being abused.

The different types of elder abuse

Abuse can take many forms, so understanding the different types is crucial for recognition:

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, pushing, slapping, pinching or using some sort of restraint.
  • Sexual abuse involves any sexual interaction, including forcible touching and sexual harassment.
  • Emotional or Psychological abuse is causing emotional pain or distress. It could include humiliation, intimidation, threats, harassment, or isolation.
  • Financial abuse is using an older person’s property or assets without their permission or using coercion or trickery to gain access to their money and belonging.
  • Neglect is failing to provide a person with necessary services to ensure their safety and well-being.

While most people can recognize some signs, such as explained bruises, cuts and fractures, there are other symptoms of abuse or neglect to look for, such as:

  • Your loved one is withdrawn, fearful, anxious or depressed
  • Fear of a specific caregiver
  • Bedsores or pressure ulcers
  • Poor personal hygiene, such as dirty clothes, body odor or poor dental hygiene
  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss 
  • Dehydration

If you notice any of these signs, taking immediate action is imperative. You need to report your concerns to the nursing home administrator, the local ombudsman or law enforcement. Experienced legal guidance can also help you hold the negligent or abusive parties accountable.


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