The decision to put your loved one into a nursing home is one that comes after lots of deliberation, discussion, and difficult conversations. That’s why it’s so incredibly painful when your loved one becomes the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse. Caregivers and administrators should provide top-level care that they would want for their own family members, and yet, abuse and neglect continue to increase year after year. Know these common signs to protect your loved ones from abuse and neglect.
- Bedsores. Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores happen when residents remain in one position for too long and the skin breaks down. This is an extremely common sign of neglect.
- Unexplained broken bones, bruises, and cuts.
- Sudden weight loss. This may indicate malnutrition, withheld feedings due to perceived “misbehavior,” or a resident’s inability to eat due to the anxiety they experience around staff members.
- Injuries at various stages of healing. If one accident occurs, all the injuries resulting from that accident should progress at the same approximate rate of healing. Bruises and cuts at various stages of healing indicate ongoing abuse.
- Increase in infections. An unexplainable increase in infections or antibiotic use may indicate physical abuse that leaves residents weaker and more at risk of infection.
- Heavy sedation. Abusers may use prescribed or unprescribed medication to control a resident’s behavior or resistance.
Emotional and Mental Signs
- Withdrawn demeanor. After abuse, victims often become withdrawn, sullen, and quiet. They do this to avoid provoking their abuser and suffering more abuse.
- Nervousness while communicating with caregivers. If caregivers come in and out of the room during visits and your loved one’s demeanor changes abruptly, that is a red flag. They may feel monitored by caregivers and want to avoid consequences after you leave.
- Sudden change in contact. When someone goes from calling their family members twice a week to once a month, that’s a sign that something is wrong. Abusers often isolate their victims to avoid getting caught or having their behavior reported.
- Anger or aggression. While some victims become withdrawn after sustained abuse, others rebel by showing aggressive or angry behavior. If a previously docile or happy family member is suddenly angry and inconsolable, try to get to the root of the issue.
- Disorientation. A family member who is suddenly unaware of where they are, who their family members are, or other relevant matters could be under the influence of unprescribed or unreported medications. Abusers do this because these symptoms in elderly residents can often be explained away as dementia.
- Unwillingness to communicate with family members. Abusers who prefer to skate under the radar may not want to have any interaction with their victim’s loved ones. If an aide or caregiver doesn’t answer questions, will not enter the room when you are present, or otherwise avoids efforts to communicate, be wary.
- Insists on talking to resident without family members present. This may indicate that they are threatening the resident and ensuring that they do not report their abuse.
- Over-the-top friendliness. Abusers may do this to gain family members’ trust and reduce the risk of getting caught.
- Poor boundaries. Abusers may be too familiar with victims, show too much physical affection, or otherwise step outside their role as caregiver. This may be an indicator of sexual abuse.
- Rapid changes in mood. If a particular caregiver is in a different mood every time you visit or their demeanor changes multiple times within the same visit, that’s a sign of an individual with poor emotional control. This trait puts elderly residents at risk.
What to Do Next
When you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected, be very careful to avoid doing anything that will put them in more danger until you can get them out. Start gathering evidence and make sure to save copies in multiple places.
Get in touch with an attorney with experience in elder abuse cases. They understand the grave risk your loved one is in, and they will help you get in touch with the appropriate agencies and individuals to get your loved one removed to a safe place. From there, they will help you move forward to hold the perpetrators accountable.
We’re Here to Help
Finding out that your loved one has been victimized is frightening and traumatic. Taking the right steps during this time is crucial. For personalized help with your elder abuse case, reach out to Reeves & Mestayer now. Call us at 228-300-2754 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.