Taking advantage of or causing harm to an elderly individual seems inconceivable, but it happens. In fact, it happens more than you think. It turns out that only 20 percent of elder abuse and neglect cases are ever reported.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you probably assume they’re getting the best care possible. It’s horrible to think that in a healthcare facility, abuse may take place.
The best thing you can do to protect a loved one is to look for anything out of the ordinary. The problem is, abuse takes many forms. On top of that, nursing home staff members sometimes manipulate a patient so they stay quiet.
If you suspect abuse is taking place, you need to speak with a nursing home neglect lawyer right away.
Here are 7 signs that should throw up a red flag.
1. Physical Abuse
If you notice any signs of injury, you need to ask your loved one about it. You should also demand an explanation from the nursing home. If you feel something is being hidden from you, it’s up to you to take action.
Physical abuse takes many forms and may result from restraining the patient or other unnecessary force. Regardless of the reason, it’s inexcusable.
Some physical signs of abuse include:
- Bruises or scrapes
- Broken bones
- Signs of restraint on ankles and wrists
Many nursing home patients are mentally disabled and unable to effectively communicate. These individuals are at greater risk. If you notice any of the signs above and can’t get a straight answer, it’s time to contact a nursing home neglect lawyer.
2. Sexual Abuse
It’s hard to imagine sexual abuse taking place at a nursing home, but it does. In these cases, sexual contact is forced upon the elderly patient against their will.
Sexual abuse is more common with patients who are mentally disabled and cannot verbalize the abuse or fight back.
Some of the warning signs that your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse include bruises or injuries in the vicinity of private areas or a sudden problem when trying to stand or walk. Another sign is the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease.
If a patient suddenly starts acting frightened or tense around a particular staff member, sexual abuse may have taken place.
3. Psychological Abuse
Unfortunately, psychological abuse is harder to detect and is also one of the most common types of nursing home abuse. It can take the form of harassment, intimidation, verbal threats, intentional humiliation, or frightening a patient on purpose.
The warnings signs of psychological abuse are behavioral and include:
- Fear of a staff member
- Relationship issues with other residents
If one or more of these behavioral changes appear quickly and without reason, abuse may be taking place. If your loved one gives any indication of this, it’s time to hire a nursing home neglect lawyer.
4. Symptoms of Neglect
When neglect takes place in a nursing home, it can result in serious injury or even death. The difficulty with cases of neglect is that it may be hard to identify a single, guilty staff member.
Sometimes neglect is unintentional or perpetrated by a number of staff members. This could be the result of an understaffed nursing home or a lack of properly skilled staff members. However, this doesn’t mean it’s excusable.
The effects of neglect can be devastating on a patient. Some of the major signs that neglect has taken place include:
- Personal hygiene issues
- Medical problems left untreated
- Sudden weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms, your loved one may not be getting the proper care they need. If left alone, these issues could cause serious health threats.
5. Sudden Restricted Visitation
It’s your right to visit your loved one in the care of a nursing home. But what if suddenly, the facility says you can’t see them? This should throw up a serious red flag.
If you’re denied permission to see your loved one, you need to ask for an explanation. If they tell you it’s because they’re asleep or ill, you need to press the issue. If any type of illness or injury has taken place, the nursing home needs to provide documentation.
Sometimes a nursing home doesn’t want visitors to see the conditions inside the facility. There could be health code violations they are hiding.
Other times, an understaffed facility hasn’t taken proper care of the residents and want to play “catch up” before visitors are allowed in. For whatever reason, if you’re denied permission to see your loved one, it’s time to talk to a nursing home neglect lawyer.
6. Financial Abuse
A resident of a nursing home has very regular and measurable financial expenses. Any kind of large and unexpected withdrawals from their checking account should raise suspicion.
This type of abuse is harder to detect, so you may want to talk to your loved one about monitoring their accounts for them. If theft is taking place, it’s likely the patient doesn’t know about it. Or, they are being manipulated by a staff member.
Keep in mind that some facilities withdraw money for rent and other items. But if unexpected withdrawals take place, it’s time to take action.
7. Behavioral Changes
Many elderly patients aren’t able to communicate that something wrong is taking place. However, you know your loved one better than the nursing home does. If you notice any sudden behavioral changes, it may be in reaction to abuse, neglect, or improper conditions.
Keep an eye out for the following:
- Frequent agitation
- Sudden withdrawal from activities
- Sleep issues
- Acting fearful
- Sudden mood swings
It’s important you understand that these symptoms could be the result of other illnesses. However, if you notice sudden behavioral changes, try to speak to your loved one and find the cause. It may be time for a nursing home neglect lawyer to get involved.
Do You Need a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer?
The signs discussed above could be the result of neglect or abuse and need to be taken seriously. A personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and navigate you through the best legal path.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse, Alvarez Law Office can help. We provide representation to East Chicago and Hobart, IN. Contact us today.