Spot the Red Flags
of Nursing Home Abuse

Chances are you have loved ones who live in a senior community of some kind, whether it’s an independent living where they can come and go as they please or a more managed setting like a nursing home. Wherever they are, we expect and hope that all the employees and caregivers treat our loved ones with dignity and respect. Today is World Elder Care Abuse Awareness Day. We want to raise awareness about elder abuse and negligence, focusing on nursing homes and elderly care. We want to provide valuable information on recognizing signs of abuse and actionable steps to take if you suspect your elderly loved one may be a victim. Together, let’s stay vigilant and prioritize the safety and well-being of our cherished family members.

Graphic that defines elder care abuse as the mistreatment of older adults in assisted living facilities.

As responsible family members, we must be attentive to any cues suggesting elder abuse or negligence. These cues can manifest physically and emotionally, providing valuable insight into potential mistreatment.

Physically you will want to watch out for mysterious bruises, burns, or scars on their body, frequent falls or injuries that may indicate inadequate supervision, signs of malnourishment, dehydration, poor personal hygiene, or significant weight loss or gain, which could suggest neglect, and untreated medical conditions or infections that should be addressed promptly.

Also, be sure to pay attention to unexplained changes in behavior, such as increased withdrawal, anxiety, or emotional distress. Notice if your loved one displays fear or avoidance towards specific individuals or caregivers. Look out for unusual signs of depression, lack of interest in their passions and usual activities, mood swings, or increased isolation, which might indicate emotional abuse. Behavioral changes are often the most overlooked as they not only do not leave visible consequences as physical acts of abuse but emotional difficulties with elderly adults often are written off due to senility or old age. Be sure to be especially vigilant in this area.

Preventing elder abuse and negligence requires a proactive approach. Make it a priority to maintain regular visits and communication with your loved one, as this allows you to stay updated on their well-being and build a strong relationship with the caregivers. During your visits, take a moment to observe the overall cleanliness of the facility, the implementation of safety measures, and the interactions between staff and residents. When considering a care facility, thoroughly research its reputation, ratings, and any reported incidents of abuse or neglect. Stay informed about the signs of elder abuse and the rights of older people, and spread awareness within your community to create a safer environment for all.

Graphic of nursing home abuse legal case. Text reads "In 2013, a 92-year-old woman died at a nursing home, due to staff negligence."

Our collective responsibility is to protect and care for our elderly loved ones. By staying vigilant, recognizing the physical and emotional cues of abuse, and taking appropriate action, we can help ensure their safety and well-being. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is a victim of abuse or negligence, take action immediately:

  • Document any evidence you observe, including dates, times, and descriptions of incidents.
  • Approach your loved one with empathy and encourage open communication to create a safe space for them to share their experiences.
  • Report your concerns to the nursing home’s management, contact the local Adult Protective Services agency, or contact the police if immediate danger is suspected. 
  • Seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in elder law to help you better understand your rights and explore legal avenues to protect your loved one. If your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse or negligence, we are here to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Let’s create a safer and more compassionate world for our elderly population!

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