Nursing home abuse is far more common than anyone likes to think about, especially as it often becomes necessary for a senior to move into a nursing care facility as a result of the aging process. WIAT reports 44 percent of 2,000 nursing home residents who were interviewed said they had been abused and 95 percent said they had witnesses the abuse and neglect of others.
Abuse can take many forms, including neglect, malnourishment, and intentional physical or emotional abuse. In one case reported on by WIAT, a man who had been admitted to the nursing home had been dropped by a nurse who tried to lift him herself despite protocols requiring two people to lift him. No one realized what occurred, and the broken bones were not discovered for four days after the incident. The nursing home told the daughter of the patient spontaneous fractures had occurred, and the home tried to cover up what happened. The man died several weeks after the incident.
In this case, the patient had simply laid in bed with broken bones for days. Other patients endure similar horrors in nursing homes when improper care is provided. Family members and visitors must be aware of the risks of abuse and should look carefully for any warning signs something is amiss when visiting relatives and friends in nursing home care facilities.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Administration for Community Living indicates there are six primary types of elder abuse which occur in nursing facilities and/or which are perpetrated by home care agencies. These include physical abuse, exploitation (misuse or taking of funds or assets), sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse (intentionally inflicting mental anguish), and abandonment (desertion of a vulnerable elderly person after promising to provide care).
There are different signs of abuse to look for, depending upon the type of abuse which is occurring. Some signs to be aware of include:
- Unexplained bruises or broken bones.
- Pressure marks and abrasions.
- Sudden changes in alertness.
- Unusual depression, which could be a sign of physical or emotional abuse.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities which were once enjoyed.
- Bruises or redness concentrated around the genitals or breasts, which can result from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial assets, or missing money or property.
- Unusual weight loss which could be the result of malnutrition and neglect.
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers.
- Medical needs which are not being attended too.
- Poor hygiene.
- Threats, belittling, or other examples of abuse of power.
- Tense relationships between the elderly person and his or her caregiver.
During the holiday times, many people visit nursing homes to see loved ones. If you visit a nursing home and notice any signs of abuse or neglect, take action. You could help to prevent the suffering of vulnerable elderly victims and could take an important step in holding the nursing home accountable if it is causing harm to patients.