Relocating an elderly parent to a nursing home or other long-term care facility is always a difficult decision. But often, when your parent can no longer care for themselves and you cannot provide adequate care, it’s in their best interest.
When you choose a nursing home for your parent, you expect the staff there will care for them with all the respect and dignity they deserve. But a new report released by the U.S. Senate shows a shocking number of nursing homes providing subpar care. When your parent is in a nursing home, you are their best advocate. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs that show abuse is taking place.
What is nursing-home abuse?
Nursing-home abuse, and, indeed, elder abuse at large, is any instance in which a person exploited or hurt because of their advanced age.
Abuse commonly found in nursing homes comes in many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. Elderly people are often vulnerable, and the abuse may go unreported, that’s why it’s so important for you to identify the signs of abuse when visiting your parent.
Signs of abuse
The signs of nursing-home abuse vary by the type of abuse perpetrated, and some identifiers are subtler than others. The following are indicators that something may be amiss at your parent’s nursing home and you should investigate further:
- Physical abuse: Signs of physical abuse include unexplained bruising, cuts and fractures; repeated injuries; unexplained falls; and refusing to seek medical care for wounds
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse can happen from other residents or from staff. Signs include torn or bloody underwear; bruising, cuts or bleeding around the genitals, breasts or anus; unexplained sexually-transmitted infections.
- Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse can manifest as behavior that resembles dementia, including thumb sucking and mumbling; newly developed anxiety, depression or insomnia; or you may notice a caregiver who is threatening or belittling.
- Financial exploitation: Your parent may be experiencing financial exploitation if you notice money missing from their room; unexplained charges on their accounts; a change in their will or other financial documents; or unexplained cash withdrawals.
- Neglect: Nursing-home neglect is often identified by malnourishment; dehydration; weight loss; missing doses of medication; and unhygienic living conditions.
The above is not a comprehensive list, and there are many other signs of abuse. If you think something isn’t right, trust your instincts. If your parent suffers abuse in their nursing home, it’s likely others are, too.
Consider seeking legal counsel if you think abuse is happening. You can find a better situation for your parent and recover any compensation owed to them.