Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, there can hardly be anything more heartbreaking than finding out he or she was a victim of elder abuse by caregivers. Unfortunately, countless residents in nursing homes and care facilities are abused or neglected by those who should be treating them with kindness and respect during their final years. For this reason we recommend everyone with a relative in a nursing home look out for warning signs that might alert them their loved one is being mistreated.

Elder abuse comes in many forms. Besides physical harm, a nursing home resident may be abused emotionally, verbally, sexually or financially. Caregivers might ignore the nutritional, medication or hygiene needs of residents, or neglect them to the point that they wander off and come to harm. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging has provided the following clues that may signal abuse or neglect:

• Bruises, abrasions or other injuries that don’t appear normal and are difficult for the victim or caregiver to explain
• Poor hygiene, dirty clothing or bedding, bedsores and other apparent signs that the resident is not being cleaned or moved often
• Dehydration and unexplained weight loss, especially if the loss is dramatic
• A change in personality or behavior, particularly signs of depression, withdrawal, anxiety and tension when the caregiver is around

Frequently, elderly nursing home residents will be either too intimidated or unable to speak up about mistreatment. During visits, it is important to watch for any of the above red flags, as well as to listen to your gut instinct that something might be wrong.

If you suspect or have proof that your loved one is being deliberately abused or neglected, you have the right to report the incident to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. You may also want to speak with an Everett personal injury attorney who has experience in nursing home abuse cases.