When you and your family entrust your loved one’s well-being to a nursing home or senior living community, you expect that their needs will be met with dignity and respect. Sadly, some communities and caregivers don’t uphold your trust. When nursing home abuse and neglect occur, your loved one may be unable to — or too afraid to — speak up. Be on the lookout for these five signs of potential abuse and neglect so you can help give your loved one a voice.
1. Your Loved One Has Poor Personal Hygiene
One of the primary functions nursing home caregivers provide is assisting residents with activities of daily living. This includes things like:
- Bathing and showering
If you notice that your loved one’s personal hygiene is suffering, nursing home neglect may be at play. Oftentimes, this form of neglect happens when a community is understaffed. It could also occur if staff lack the training needed to properly care for your loved one. Regardless of the reason, your loved one should not be forced to live in uncomfortable or unsanitary conditions.
2. Your Loved One Has Unexplained Injuries or Health Problems
Though you may expect your loved one’s mobility and health to decline as they age, it’s a nursing home’s job to keep your loved one functioning as best as possible. An unexpected decline in their physical capabilities could indicate abuse, as could the sudden onset of medical conditions.
Common signs of physical abuse include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Damaged personal possessions
- Bruises, welts or scrapes
- Dehydration or malnutrition
An experienced medical professional can help you determine if your loved one’s injuries or medical complications are the result of abuse. To get an unbiased opinion, we suggest having your loved one examined by a physician outside of the community where they reside.
3. Your Loved One’s Behaviors & Personality Begin to Change
If your loved one is suffering at the hands of a caregiver, the way they act around you, your family and their peers will likely begin to change. Your loved one may fear being left alone or left with only their caregiver.
This fear can manifest in several ways. Aggression and frequent arguments are common, as is withdrawing from social situations and once beloved activities.
If your loved one has dementia or another form of memory loss and is already prone to some of these behaviors, you should be extra mindful of changes in their demeanor. Repetitive actions, such as rocking back and forth or mumbling, and new or worsening aggression can be telling signs of abuse.
4. Your Loved One’s Medical & Personal Bills Seem Off
Elder abuse isn’t solely physical or emotional. According to the FBI, more than one million seniors are victims of financial and medical abuse each year. Keep an eye on your loved one’s bank accounts and medical bills. Frequent or unexplained bank activity could indicate exploitation, as could repeat medical bills or strange charges.
5. Your Loved One Speaks Up
If your loved one tells you that abuse or neglect is occurring, it’s important to let them know that you believe what they say. Make it a point to listen to their story, and most importantly, express compassion and understanding as you do. Though you may want to believe that your loved one is mistaken, never disregard claims of abuse or neglect.
Ask your loved one to tell you whatever details they feel comfortable sharing, but don’t press if they won’t. Your loved one may very well feel ashamed and embarrassed by what is happening. Offer to connect them with a third party, such as an attorney, their doctor or a police officer, so they can share their story without worry of any judgment.
Contact Our South Carolina Attorneys
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, take action immediately. Our experienced attorneys offer complimentary evaluations for nursing home abuse cases and can help you and your family determine what steps you should take next.
Contact us to get started. We serve clients in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Kingstree and Marion, South Carolina.