Written by Carlos Santiago. 

The decision to place an elderly relative in a nursing home can be a difficult one for many families to make. In many cases, elderly individuals may be resistant to this type of change in their lives, preferring to stay in their own homes and care for themselves. However, at some point, this type of change may be necessary. In most cases, the relatives of the person entering a nursing home can feel secure in the care that their loved one will receive. Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to provide adequate care and supervision, employing staff or implementing practices that expose residents to the potential for abuse. 

Sadly, nursing home abuse is a serious problem in the United States. As many as 1 in 3 nursing homes have at some point been cited for abuse or neglect of residents, and these numbers likely understate the actual incidence of this type of reprehensible behavior. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducts inspections of most nursing home facilities, the frequency of these inspections is not enough to catch all forms of abuse. Therefore, it is critical that those with a loved one in a nursing home facility be able to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse on their own. 

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse 

Nursing home abuse can occur in a variety of different ways, and therefore, the warning signs of nursing home abuse can vary significantly. The following are some of the most common forms of abuse and signs that abuse may be occurring: 

Ÿ         Physical Abuse – nursing home residents may be subjected to physical abuse from staff or other residents. Some signs that may indicate that a nursing home resident has been the victim of physical abuse may include unusual or unexplained cuts and bruises, broken bones, and emotional withdrawal.

Ÿ         Neglect – nursing home residents may also suffer as a result of neglect on the part of nursing home staff or management. Some of the most common signs of neglect include sudden weight loss, lack of personal hygiene, bedsores, lack of necessary medical care, and the development of infections.

Ÿ         Verbal abuse – while it may not pose the same obvious health and safety risks as other forms of abuse, verbal abuse of nursing home residents can still have a powerful effect on an elderly individual’s life. Some signs that may indicate that verbal abuse may be occurring include listlessness, emotional withdrawal, unexplained weight loss, and refusal to follow medical regiments.

Ÿ         Financial abuse – because of the vulnerable position nursing home residents are in, some nursing home staff members may take advantage of residents by stealing from them or otherwise abusing their finances. Some signs of financial abuse include sudden or unusual financial transactions, disappearance of personal items, and emotional withdrawal. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a National Nursing Home Survey to help individuals looking to place a relative in a nursing home find the best possible place for their loved one. However, nothing can be done to guarantee that nursing home abuse will not occur. If a nursing home resident you know has been the victim of abuse

“Carlos is an avid legal blogger who has written on a variety of legal topics. He contributes to regularly.”

Thanks, Carlos,  for giving us the signs to watch for if your parent, relative, or friend lives in a nursing home. There are many homes who offer loving care, but it is important for family members to monitor their care.  Visit at different times of the day -don’t drop by at the same time of day each visit.  Look out for those who have no family to do so.  They are often the ones who are picked on, and must be protected. pb

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