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What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse to Look For?

What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse to Look For?

It is very unsettling to discover news that the care your Mother is receiving in her new nursing home isn't up to the standards you expected. What is even worse is hearing that your Mother has been mistreated and abused during her time in a nursing home.

We send our patients and loved ones to nursing homes when they require daily care, entrusting their staff to take safe care of them. It is to our belief that there isn’t a worry in the world relating to their health care. The unfortunate truth of the matter is, that’s not always the case. In a recent study by the World Health Organization states that 1 in 6 elders report having been abused in the past year in some form. However, in a nursing home setting these statistics are even more frightening, they state that 64% of surveyed staff members have committed abuse in the past year.

These statistics may be terrifying to read, especially if you have a loved one in a nursing home currently. The thought of a loved one being neglected or mistreated is something that nobody wants to think about. To ease the daunting thought of “is mom being treated with proper care?” we have put together some of the most common warning signs of nursing home neglect and abuse.

Behavior Change

The most commonly noticed indication that an elder is being abused is noticeable changes in their behavior and personality. This mood will be expressed even further towards their caregiver, as they are usually the aggressor. This is usually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to investigating a nursing home abuse claim.

Caregiver Neglect

When it comes to nursing home abuse, the most common type comes in the form of neglect. As many nursing home patients are unable to care for themselves or carry out daily tasks, it is very easy for nurses, doctors, and staff to neglect them.

Some of the more common ways we have seen caregiver neglect are:

  • Leaving the elderly individual alone or unattended in public places

  • Providing unlivable living situations in the form of amenities. This includes things such as lack of heating or cooling, faulty wiring, hazardous mold, and a lack of drinkable water

  • Improper clothing according to the weather

  • Not bathing the individual, especially when necessary.

  • Living in a nonhygienic setting, including soiled bedding and clothing

  • Not turning a bedridden patient, which may lead to bedsores

Physical Abuse

With caregiver neglect usually comes physical abuse. If the caregiver is neglecting the patient, more times than not the caregiver is also causing physical harm to the patient in some form.

Some of the signs of physical abuse from a nursing home are:

  • When the caregiver refuses to allow patient visitation without them being present, as they can monitor what the patient is saying about them

  • Broken personal belongings, most commonly eyeglasses

  • Broken bones, dislocations, sprains, or bruises that have no explanation

  • Tattered or torn clothing

  • Unanswered or deflected questions from the caregiver. An example would be “My father has been losing quite a bit of weight, what’s the plan for this?” The caregiver should have answers to a question like this, if they answer with “this is just the cost of getting old” or something similar, there may be abuse present

  • The diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease without an adequate explanation

Emotional Abuse

When an elder is being abused they will oftentimes see drastic changes in their emotional state, the most common being anxiety and or depression. It is very common for elderly patients to be emotionally abused because often times the caregiver will blame the patient's emotional state on their own health, not something the caregiver did.

Emotional abuse is fairly simple to spot because it tends to have some very visible warning signs, some of the signs to watch for are:

  • Noticeable change in their normal behavior patterns

  • A lack of will to take place in social activities

  • The caregiver imposes patient isolation, meaning the caregiver is refusing the patient’s family and loved ones of visitation rights

  • The tone the caregiver uses shows a lot about how they handle patients, someone who is verbally aggressive or uncaring can usually be linked back to emotional abuse

Financial Abuse/Exploitation

The elderly are very prone to being taken advantage of financially because they are usually not in full control of their funds. In most cases, the person who is committing the financial abuse is someone who the victim believes to be trustworthy, such as their caregiver.

Some of the most common signs that a nursing home patient is the victim of financial abuse are:

  • Missing cash from the patient’s room

  • ATM withdrawals when it is clear the patient is unable to do so themselves

  • Lack of certain amenities or healthcare services although they were within the budget

  • Unusual purchases or services that the patient would have never purchased

Healthcare Fraud

Healthcare fraud is quite common in nursing homes because again, the elderly tend to be easy to take advantage of. Healthcare comes in many different forms ranging from selling prescription medication to selling medical services that were never provided.

A few of the more common warning signs that there may be healthcare fraud at hand are as follows:

  • Receiving too much or too little medication

  • Duplicate charges for the same medical procedure

  • Definitive evidence of lack of care although the bill is paid in full

If you have a feeling a family member or loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, be sure to look over this list during your next visit. If you find any of these warning signals you will want to speak with a qualified attorney to begin discussing your rights and legal options.

For a free consultation call us today at (713) 581-9042.


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