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What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is something no family wants to think about. Yet around the country, thousands of helpless senior citizens suffer abuse from their caretakers and nursing home staff members. Since many elder abuse victims suffer in silence, too afraid or otherwise unable to report the crime, it may be up to you as a relative to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse. If you notice any signs of an issue, get help immediately.

Unkempt or Unsanitary Appearance

When you visit your loved one or see photos of him or her, check for signs of neglect or abuse. Abusive nursing homes may neglect resident care, leading to disheveled or unkempt-looking residents, unchanged adult diapers, foul odors, dirty rooms, rotten food, slippery floors, dangerous premises defects, infections, or bedsores. Isolating your loved one, using restraints improperly, or forcing him or her to live in degrading conditions, such as with an open wound or dirty adult diaper, are all forms of abuse. The nursing home should be clean, safe and able to take proper care of its residents’ needs – including cleanliness and physical appearance.


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Sudden or Unexplained Declines in Physical Health

If the nursing home informs you that your loved one has taken a spill or otherwise suffered an injury, ask questions. Call the hospital that took care of your loved one to verify the nursing home’s story. Frequent trips to the hospital, general malnutrition, unexplained injuries or injuries that do not match the nursing home’s explanation could be signs of elder abuse. Be especially wary of injuries such as dislocations, pulled muscles, internal organ injuries, broken bones or other injuries that usually result from trauma.

In other cases, nursing home abuse or prolonged neglect could lead to overall declines in your loved one’s health rather than specific injuries. If your relative was doing fine, then suddenly experienced a decline in health, it could be a sign of abuse. Your loved one may be suffering from abuse or neglect that has affected him or her physically, such as mental abuse that has made him or her give up on the fight for life. Ask your loved one about the sudden decline to see if you kind find the source.


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Changes in Mood, Behavior or Mental Status

Nursing home abuse does not only affect a senior citizen physically but also mentally and emotionally. On trips to visit your loved one, pay attention to changes in his or her mood, behaviors, energy levels, and overall outlook on life. Mental and emotional changes could stem from abuse or neglect at the nursing home. Verbal abuse, for example, could make your loved one seem withdrawn, anxious, jumpy or depressed. Red flags include isolation, withdrawal from favorite activities, fear of a certain staff member, and suicidal thoughts or actions.


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Suspicious Financial Activity

Another type of nursing home abuse is financial exploitation. Nursing home staff members or caregivers close to your loved one may take advantage of the relationship or position of power to use your loved one for financial gain. They may also use physical or verbal abuse to execute a financial abuse scheme. Check your family member’s bank accounts and savings often for unusual activity, such as large withdrawals or checks made out to “cash.” Warn your loved one about trusting others with financial information, giving large gifts to caregivers, changing wills and falling for scams.


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What to Do About Nursing Home Abuse?

If you suspect your elderly loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home in Virginia, act quickly. Remove your family member from the nursing home immediately and bring him or her to a safe place. Report your suspicions to nursing home administrators. Call the police if the incident is severe. Start to gather facts and evidence, such as photographs of your relative or the nursing home, the names of caretakers, a description of what happened, statements from your loved one and a police report number. Then, contact a Richmond nursing home abuse lawyer for further advice. Your family could be eligible for compensation from the nursing home.

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