Elderly individuals need support from family, friends and sometimes they may need to stay in a nursing home facility. These individuals are likely to suffer from elder abuse because of their reliance on other people. Abuse can be in many forms including neglect, exploitation and various forms of violence.
This is why it is important to prevent elder abuse in nursing homes as well as spread awareness about it. This way, it will be easier for people to identify the abuse and what to do about it.
We have a list of situations and conditions that might be a signal for elder abuse but keep in mind that not all of them indicate abuse. It’s important that you first do your investigation before concluding anything.
Forms of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is categorized as:
This involves any kind of non-consensual sexual conduct. It can include sexual harassment, take sexually explicit photos and videos, sexual coercion, sodomy, rape or inappropriate touching.
It includes shoving, hitting, burning, beating, hitting, kicking, slapping, pinching and restraining among others.
Psychological or emotional abuse
This includes intimidation, coercion, threats, demeaning comments, verbal berating and isolation from friends and family.
This happens when the caregiver does not give adequate care to an elderly person they are obligated to care for.
Financial or material exploitation
This includes taking advantage of an elderly person financially. This may involve getting them to sign legal documents indicating that they’ve given over their wealth or tricking them into signing deals that will drain them financially.
It’s important to be aware of all forms of exploitation in nursing homes since it is not limited to sexual or physical abuse.
Situations that Indicate Elder Abuse
The best way to find out if your loved one is undergoing abuse in a nursing home is by keeping in touch with them on a regular basis.
The main reason why some forms of elder abuse are hard to identify is because most people assume their behavior is the natural effect of aging. The more you, your family and friends keep in touch with your loved one, the higher the chances that you won’t miss any form of elder abuse.
However, keep in mind that your loved one might not want to report the abuse due to many reasons such as:
- They fear for their own safety
- They are too incapacitated to report
- The abuser has power over your loved one, e.g, they may be the one that receives abuse complaints
- They may not be aware that they are being abused especially when it’s financial abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
It’s easy to assume that physical abuse is the easiest form of abuse to identify but this is not always the case.
For elderly people, it can be hard to identify signs of physical abuse because by nature when we age, our mobility and health declines. According to CDC, the most common cause of injuries in adults above the age of 65 is accidental falls. With that being said, how easy would it be to identify injuries caused by an accidental fall and an abuser?
Below are some clues that should point you in the right direction:
- The explanation of the injury does not fit how it occurred. For instance, you can’t get a fractured rib by accidentally walking into a door knob.
- Markings indicating physical restraints
- A sudden change of behavior towards a particular person. They may express fear or avoid the person altogether.
- You are suddenly denied visitation rights to your loved one without an explanation.
Physical abuse also includes any other behavior that harms a person’s physical health. For example, refusing to take them for scheduled medical check-ups when they have a chronic condition or when they injure themselves can be categorized as physical abuse.
Signs of Emotional or Psychological Abuse
It’s common for old people to be diagnosed with psychological conditions such as dementia. One of the biggest signs of dementia is mood swings and forgetfulness. Also a decline in cognitive abilities can affect a person’s behavior.
This is why it can be hard to know whether or not an elderly person is being abused in a nursing home or if the deterioration in their emotional and psychological wellbeing is caused by other factors.
Here’s how to spot if your loved one is undergoing psychological abuse:
- Extreme emotional agitation beyond what you would consider “normal”.
- Refuses to communicate or withdraws
- Negative mood swings when a certain caregiver is around
- Negative comments about a certain caregiver
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Here’s how to spot sexual abuse:
- Weird comments about sexual topics
- Changes in behavior similar to those we’ve mentioned in emotional and psychological abuse
- A sexually transmitted disease shows up in a medical check up
- Anal or genital bleeding
- Bruising around the genitals or breasts.
Many older adults remain sexually active so it might be challenging to identify sexual abuse. It’s not unusual for residents in a nursing home to have consensual sex with one another.
Signs of Financial Abuse
As your loved ones age, they become dependent on other people to manage their financial affairs. This may include daily expenses or even complicated matters such as estate planning. Differentiating financial exploitation from poor financial planning can be hard but these are the signs to look out for:
- Late payment of recurring bills such as electricity when they used to make the payments on time before going to the nursing home.
- Making uneducated investments or taking out huge loans to benefit other people
- Too many secrets or lack of transparency from the person assigned the role of managing your loved ones financial affairs
- Drastic or sudden changes in financial arrangements
- Granting power of attorney to someone they have no relationship with or someone they had just met.
Fraudsters love taking advantage of the elderly so it’s important to always monitor your loved ones finances to avoid them becoming victims of exploitation.
Signs of Neglect
Abusive behavior shouldn’t be the only thing that you should watch out for at the nursing home. It’s also important to ensure that your loved ones are properly cared for. It’s easier to spot neglect than it is to spot abuse. Below are the signs of neglect:
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Untreated health conditions such as bed sores
- Changes in physical condition caused by factors such as malnutrition.
- Repeated incidences of accidents that cause injuries
What You Should Do in Case of Elder Abuse
The first thing that you should do when you suspect your loved one is being abused at the nursing home is to remove them from the nursing home to ensure their safety and well-being. Then you should report the incident to the Massachusetts hotline by calling (800) 922-2275. Alternatively, you can call 911. Give them as much detail as possible and avoid taking any action that might be deemed illegal or might put your loved one in more danger.
Secondly, you should contact an elder abuse attorney after you have confirmed your suspicions about elder abuse in the nursing home. Your loved one deserves to be compensated for their trauma and also recover any assets they might have lost to fraudsters. Contact our lawyers at Kevin P Landry Law Offices for a free initial consultation.