How to Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Injury or Abuse – and What You Should do Next

Can you blame family members who need more advanced care for their loved ones – but feel hesitation when it comes to helping them move into a nursing home? We hear so many stories about how loved ones being neglected and abused, even though that’s the exception, not the rule. If you worry about your loved one, it’s important to look for signs of nursing home injury or abuse. Don’t ignore the feeling.

Before discussing the signs of abuse, it is critical to note that abuse is not just physical. It can come in a variety of forms and, in some cases, without the person’s knowledge. Just because an action doesn’t physically leave a mark, doesn’t mean it is not abuse. For example, a common type of abuse is financial exploitation, which can involve stealing or forcing one to change his or her will.

There are numerous types of abuse that those in nursing homes may experience, such as:

  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • neglect or abandonment
  • financial exploitation
  • healthcare fraud

It is critical to be aware of everything going on. If you’re worried about your loved one, start to take action by following these steps:

1. Talk with your loved one:

This should be the first step if you have any type of suspicion. You want to make sure you are getting the full story before you take action. It may be hard for your loved one to talk, though, because he or she might not want to disrupt your life. In other situations, your loved one might be afraid of what may happen or may be unable to recall the incident.

2. Be logical:

Although it’s hard to not overreact when we are under the impression that our loved one is being harmed, keeping your temper tamed is also hard. Stay calm and professional. Your loved one will deal with whatever your actions are at that point.

3. Ask questions:

It is your right to ask questions if you have any suspicions of abuse in the nursing home. Before jumping to conclusions, ask the nurses, aids, management and any other staff members so you can hear them out and learn all you need to about the situation. The management at the nursing home should be more than willing to answer any questions or concerns that you may have, because they are the main point of contact. If there is nothing going on, they shouldn’t have anything to hide.

4. File a report:

Once you have spoken with your loved one about the abuse they have been receiving you should immediately file a report. Gather all information you have and speak with a director of the nursing home, as well as an elder abuse hotline.

5. Reach out to a lawyer:

Individuals living in a nursing home are entitled to feel safe and receive protection. This may also be reimbursement under the law. It is important to have a lawyer involved because most incidents can’t take legal action without following a formal process.

Stay alert to signs of neglect or abuse. Some of these may be physical or emotional. Anything from mysterious bruises, an appearance of malnourishment, change in mood or behavior or bedsores can be signs. Though some of these may be obvious, you should be checking in with your loved one so that if there is abuse, you’ll not only see it sooner, but you’ll also be able to take action sooner. Unfortunately, many people who visit their loved ones in nursing homes are stopping in for a brief visit once in a while, rather than really taking the time to spend time to observe the situation. By educating yourself about the signs of nursing home abuse, you can protect your loved one physically and legally.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t wait. If you believe you have any reason to question your loved one’s safety and wellbeing, act as soon as possible. Reporting the abuse and neglect is honestly the only way to put a stop to this cruel behavior. This is especially important if your loved one can’t speak for him or herself.

The unsettling possibility of elder abuse in a nursing home is unfortunately always out there, and, oftentimes, no one ever sees it coming. While abuse is most frequently reported in poorly funded nursing homes in economically starved areas, any nursing home can have the issue of elder abuse. Don’t assume this situation can’t happen to you; unfortunately, we’ve seen it more than we want to – and even more cases happen than we know about. If you’re worried about a loved one, take the brave first step and speak out for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Contact us today.

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