What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

As time goes by, we are increasingly relying on specialized nursing homes to provide care for our elderly loved ones. And by doing so, we hope we make a wise decision. But the thing is, nursing facilities are not always as they seem to be when you take the tour.

Assisted living facilities for the elderly make every effort to come off tidy and safe, even when that’s not quite the case. According to the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987, nursing homes must uphold quality standards to safeguard residents as well as adopt universal standards for adequate long-term care. Yet, care homes across the US are cited for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect year after year.

If you’ve got a loved one in a nursing home in Chicago, this news may raise the alarm. Because how would you tell if your loved one is in a safe facility or one with serious abuse and neglect issues?

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

By definition, elder abuse is any deliberate action or failure to take action that causes or elevates the risk of harm to an elderly person, either by someone they trust, a caregiver, or even other residents. Nursing home residents may hesitate to report these cases, mostly due to fear or confusion. Even if they realize what’s happening, they may be unaware of their legal rights.

That said, nursing home abuse can take several forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse or exploitation

What are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

As mentioned earlier, placing loved ones in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities can prove a difficult decision, no doubt. And it’s even worse when you think of the possibility of them being subjected to any kind of abuse while there.

That’s why it’s crucial to know the warning signs of nursing home abuse to stop or prevent it from happening. While the red flags may be subtle, being aware of them can help you intervene early.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse

The warning signs of physical nursing home abuse may be the easiest to detect as they are more visible than other forms of abuse.

Some common ones include:

  • Pressure marks
  • Burns
  • Abrasions
  • Unexplained welts or bruises
  • Broken bones

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, may take various forms, including silent treatment, verbal abuse, and other manipulative techniques aimed at causing emotional pain to a nursing home resident.

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse can be challenging to detect as it doesn’t cause bodily harm. However, there are various signs you can look out for that could mean your loved one has been subjected to emotional abuse.

They include:

  • Shivering when the abuser is present
  • Mood swings
  • Avoiding eye contact with a particular caregiver
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Sadness or Depression
  • Fear, particularly for their caregiver
  • Self-neglect or injury
  • Looking shyer than usual
  • Reluctance to speak openly
  • Confusion not associated with any health issues
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Withdrawal
  • Self-isolation
  • Sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Passivity

Warning Signs of Neglect

Nursing home neglect can be more of a challenge to detect than other kinds of abuse. This is because the signs, just like with emotional abuse, are often subtle. Even so, resident neglect in nursing homes can pose serious effects, just like other forms of abuse.

Some typical indicators of nursing home neglect are:

  • Inadequate medical treatment for the resident in need
  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as dry skin and persistent thirst
  • Drastic changes in mental well-being
  • Soiled clothes or linens
  • Mysterious injuries
  • Bedsores (otherwise known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Deplorable living conditions
  • Reduced weight or other signs of malnutrition

Nursing home neglect may also result in wrongful death, which may come about in cases of prescription errors, preventable falls, and bedsores that go unchecked, leading to infection and other incidents.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

Signs of sexual abuse in assisted living facilities are not always as apparent as most people presume. But that’s not surprising, as it’s quite difficult to imagine someone sexually assaulting elderly residents. Predators count on this innocence to carry out such heinous acts.

But what makes identifying signs of sexual abuse in these facilities challenging is the fact that most residents have different forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, making accurate reporting of sexual abuse cases extremely difficult. In such cases, concerned family members can take the initiative and check for any signs of sexual abuse.

That said, signs of nursing home sexual abuse to look out for include:

  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bruising around the genitals, breasts, or inner thighs
  • Getting easily spooked
  • Unexplained bleeding in the genitals
  • Growing scared of male caregivers
  • Allegations of sexual assault, irrespective of the victim’s mental state
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Since older adults tend to be physically and emotionally fragile, sexual abuse in nursing facilities can have disastrous repercussions. Regrettably, deaths resulting from rape and sexual assault have been reported to occur, including suicide.

What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe that someone you care about has been abused in a nursing home, you can take several actions to ensure their safety. You might have to alert law enforcement so they can look into the incident, as most cases of neglect and abuse are considered criminal.

Step 1: Report the Abuse

You should immediately contact the Illinois Department of Aging to report the abuse. Alternatively, you may also call the Illinois Department of Public Health’s hotline at (800) 252-4343. You may also want to contact the nursing home ombudsman through the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Step 2: Document the Possible Abuse in Detail

Keep a close eye on your loved one’s behavior and any odd cuts or bruises. Ask them how they sustained the injury and jot down what they say. If you can question them multiple times, do that and check for discrepancies in their responses.

Step 3: Collect Evidence to Back Your Suspicions

Gather your loved one’s medical and financial records. Also, take a few photos of them, as well as anything else you believe may have contributed to their abuse.

Assuming there are witnesses, speak with them and document their remarks. However, if you do not feel confident obtaining their testimony, that’s still fine. Simply collect their contact details and forward them to your nursing home abuse lawyer to take it from there.

Step 4: Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for Further Action

After you’ve reported the nursing home abuse incident and are confident your loved one is safe, consult a nursing home abuse attorney from The Finn Law Firm. We will investigate to build your case and help you take legal action against whoever is liable for the abuse.

Your Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney of Choice

By being familiar with the signs of nursing home abuse, one might be able to notice and respond to mistreatment in eldercare facilities before it has catastrophic implications.

On that note, if you suspect that a family member in a nursing home has been subjected to abuse or neglect in any way, don’t hesitate to consult an attorney from The Finn Law Firm for professional guidance and devoted representation.

We boast vast experience in cases such as these and won’t rest until we ensure the liable party is brought to book and the victim is rightfully compensated for their suffering. So, contact us today and let us help put an end to elder abuse.


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