According to a report by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, 30% of nursing homes were cited for instances of elder abuse between 1999 and 2001. What’s even more worrying is that over a quarter of nursing home abuses are not reported to police. It’s important to contact the police or an attorney if you suspect someone is suffering from nursing home negligence.
Unfortunately, signs of elder abuse are not always evident on the surface, and many patients remain reluctant to discuss their injuries with family members, especially in front of staff. Common injuries can include bed sores, dehydration, or even visible bruising. Being able to identify signs of elder abuse is key to getting a loved one the help they need.
Unfortunately, malnutrition is one of the first signs that nursing home neglect may be occuring. This includes dehydration, unexplained weight loss, or even consistent infections or viruses. Identifying signs of neglect is difficult and even more difficult to prosecute because many nursing home patients aren’t necessarily in the peak of their life physically. Be sure to visit another doctor, besides the one on staff, if you suspect a loved one is suffering malnutrition.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Another major sign of malnutrition may be poor personal hygiene. This will be evident in dental exams and doctors’ visits. Unfortunately, many nursing home staff don’t have medical knowledge and short staffed homes will leave residents to take care of their own personal hygiene. This is disconcerting because many residents lack the capacity to complete these activities on their own.
Unexplained Bodily Injury
We’ve all seen it on TV shows when a person who claims to fall a lot is actually not falling. If a loved one suffers from persistent physical injuries, then they may be a victim of elder abuse. At that point, it’s critical to remove them from the home immediately so they don’t suffer further harm. Be sure to check out whether any new physical injuries are documented or not.
Distance and Other Psychological Issues
If a loved one seems distant from you and is reluctant to speak with you or staff, they could be suffering from neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, elderly people have some of the highest suicide rates of any segment in the country and many suffer from isolation and neglect. It’s important that they feel needed and have companionship within their nursing home. Abuse and neglect can also manifest in even darker forms of depression and lead to changes in behaviour.
Finally, you should pull somebody out of a home with unsanitary conditions, immediately. Elderly people are susceptible to a wider range of diseases with a weakened immune system. Be sure to find a home that offers clean and healthy conditions, as well as organic food for residents.
Nursing home abuse and negligence is still a rampant phenomenon in our society and difficult to detect. For this reason, many suspect that the rate of elder abuse could be higher than reported.