Many people visit nursing homes to see family, to volunteer, or even to perform services like hair cutting or entertaining. If you visit a nursing home for any reason, you should be mindful of the way the seniors are being treated and you should be on the lookout for signs of nursing home abuse.
There are many different kinds of nursing home abuse which may occur, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. Neglecting the needs of a vulnerable senior is also a type of abusive behavior as well. Too often, abuse goes unnoticed until a tragedy happens. If every visitor who enters a nursing home looks out for possible abuse and speaks up when abuse is suspected, hopefully many seniors can avoid the pain and damage which comes from abusive and neglectful behavior.
Why You Must Speak Up if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
Signs of nursing home abuse can include things like bruises; cuts; broken eye glasses; poor hygiene; ripped clothing; or unusual behavior among seniors like depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from activities. If you see these or other signs of abuse, speak up. The Alabama Department of Senior Services can provide help in reporting abuse, you can contact local law enforcement, and you can contact a lawyer. The key is to do something.
You need to speak up if you suspect abuse is occurring for many reasons:
- Many seniors can't speak up for themselves. Some senior abuse victims are too afraid to report they are being harmed by abuse. Others cannot speak up because they have medical conditions like dementia which prevent them from advocating for themselves.
- Many seniors do not have family that visit often. When seniors have regular visitors, their family members can take legal action and pursue a claim for damages so the abuse victim is compensated for losses. Some seniors have no family who visits, however- and they have no one to advocate for them. Anyone who sees signs of abuse should come forward to protect these most vulnerable people.
- Abuse can have detrimental consequences. Premature death, dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores, and broken bones are among the different possible consequences listed by Centers for Disease Control when abuse occurs in a nursing home setting. Even emotional abuse can result in a senior dying earlier than he or she would have had the abuse not occurred. Speaking up about suspected signs of nursing home abuse could save many seniors from suffering painful debilitating injuries or even having their lives cut short.
Nursing home staff and nursing home owners owe it to vulnerable seniors to provide an acceptable level of care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse has become so commonplace in some facilities, the Washington Post reported staff members were actually posting abusive pictures of senior residents to social media. If every visitor to every nursing home is on the lookout for maltreatment and speaks up when they see it, hopefully the epidemic of senior abuse can come to an end.