Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is far too common. Studies indicate nursing home abuse is underreported. Thus, families of nursing home residents must be extremely vigilant to ensure that their loved ones are not being mistreated.
The World Health Organization describes elder abuse as a “violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productively, isolation and despair.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Center on Elder Abuse, warning signs for elder abuse include:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.
As nursing homes reach capacity due to the influx of baby boomers and advancements in medical technology, nursing homes are suffering overcrowding, inadequate staff training, staff burnout, and staff shortages, and stressful working conditions. These conditions contribute to pervasive nursing home neglect and abuse but are certainly no excuse for it.
State and Federal legislators have passed laws to protect nursing home residents. Nursing homes that violate these laws, or otherwise commit negligence or other torts amounting to nursing home neglect and abuse, should be aggressively pursued.
The victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, or their loved ones, should immediately contact a qualified attorney if they suspect that their loved ones have suffered nursing home abuse and neglect.