Everything about nursing home abuse is heart-wrenching. For the loved ones, it's feelings of guilt and responsibility. For the victims, it's unimaginable pain. Sad situations like nursing home abuse may not always be preventable no matter how careful families are to choose a good facility. Family members must stay ever-vigilant so that this type of harm is identified and rectified. Read on to find out what to watch for and what to do if it happens to you.
What Is Elderly Abuse?
The elderly and incapacitated are in a special, protected category when it comes to the law. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that abuse of the elderly can be sexual, mental, physical, or financial. When no permission is given or the victim is not able to provide permission, certain acts may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
What to Watch Out for
Nursing homes are entrusted with providing the elderly and infirm with a safe home, adequate food, medical care when needed, clothing, grooming and hygiene, and more. Any lack of those things could constitute abuse. Abuse can be about neglect as well as about willful acts. Some signs of nursing home neglect and/or abuse include:
- Changes in mood for no apparent reason. They may suddenly or gradually become anxious, fearful, depressed, agitated, etc.
- Poor personal hygiene. Your loved one may appear dirty, have body odors, have sores (bedsores) on the backs of their legs, arms buttocks or back, and have unwashed hair.
- Malnourishment. If your loved one appears to have lost weight, speak to the doctor about having them weighed and evaluated.
- Clothing and bedding have not been recently changed or laundered.
- Your loved one has unexplained scratches, burns, broken bones, and other marks on their bodies.
- A sexually transmitted disease (STD) in a bedridden loved one is cause for alarm.
- Your loved one complains of missing items or money. Also, you may notice your loved one's financial arrangements have recently been changed.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse
Let the center know about your suspicions then report it to the police. Nursing home neglect and abuse is a crime. You should also file a report with your state's adult protective services. Lastly, speak to a personal injury attorney. Sometimes, the nursing home knew or should have known about the issue and failed to act to protect your loved ones and others. The sooner you take action, the fewer victims suffer. If your loved one was harmed, you may be able to seek money damages on their behalf. Don't stand by — take action to protect your loved one and others from neglectful facilities.