We have all heard stories about elderly patients being abused in nursing homes.  Unfortunately, it is a constant worry as many of us plan for our parents’ or loved ones’ future once they can no longer care for themselves at home.  Knowing the signs of nursing home abuse and contacting a lawyer who specializes in this area of the law are important steps in protecting your loved one.

The most obvious form of abuse is physical abuse.  Look for bruises, skin tears, or other signs of injury when you visit your loved one in a nursing home.

Emotional abuse is harder to identify.  Many elderly are affected by confusion and dementia but repeated complaints about shouting or threatening language, ridicule and humiliation, or blaming the resident for things that are beyond their control should be investigated.  Equally damaging, it is emotionally abusive if staff ignores the resident or the resident is placed in extended isolation.  Talk to your love one and talk to the staff, especially to the nursing supervisor or the resident’s physician, if you suspect this form of more subtle abuse.

Unfortunately, financial fraud and exploitation are also frequent forms of abuse in institutional settings.  A caregiver who is an abuser may use his or her position of authority and trust to extort money or to simply steal from a resident, or help themselves to the resident’s credit card. Needless to say, the resident should have very little cash with them in the nursing home and all credit cards should be left at home or sent home with a relative. Beware of any caregiver who signs documents on behalf of your loved one.

Finally, sexual abuse may be physical or non-physical.  It may be perpetrated by another visitor or by a caregiver.  Listen carefully, if your loved one is complaining about someone who is always in his or her room, and making inappropriate comments or advances.