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Recognize the signs of nursing-home abuse

Deciding to move a loved one to a long-term care facility or nursing home is never an easy choice. But when they can no longer care for themselves and you cannot adequately care for them, a nursing home is the best choice. When you pick a nursing home, you're placing a great deal of trust in the staff that they will treat your loved one as you would.

That's why it's so shocking when we hear nightmare stories about nursing homes that neglect or abuse their residents. If you've had to make the difficult choice of rehoming your loved one in a care facility, there are some things you can look out for to make sure they get the best care possible.

What is nursing-home abuse?

Nursing-home abuse can come in many iterations. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and neglect are all too common in nursing homes. Abuse can cross the spectrum from mild neglect to full-on assault.

Identifying abuse

Abuse comes in many forms, and each comes with its own telltale signs. Knowing those signs can help you best protect your loved one's well-being.

  • Physical abuse: Signs of physical abuse include unexplained bruises, cuts or fractures; bruises on the limbs from restraints; a staff member not letting you be alone with your loved one; fearfulness
  • Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is marked by newly-formed anxiety, depression or insomnia; your loved one becoming withdrawn; jitteriness; paranoia
  • Sexual abuse: Signs of sexual abuse include bruising around the genitals or breasts; sexually transmitted infections; bleeding from the anus or vagina; bloody underwear
  • Financial abuse: Suspect financial abuse if you see changes in your loved one's personal accounts; receive unexpected bills; see ATM withdrawals; notice missing cash from your loved one's room; changes is power of attorney, wills or insurance policies
  • Neglect: Your loved one may be facing neglect if he or she is dehydrated; malnourished; not receiving the correct medications in a timely manner; develops bedsores; if call lights go unanswered; if the staff seems either frantic or indifferent

Find Help

If you believe your loved one is facing nursing-home abuse, trust your gut. If it's happening to one resident, it's likely happening to more. Consider seeking the guidance of an attorney who can help you best determine the needs of your loved ones. After all, loved ones deserve the best care they can get.

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