If you have an aging parent and cannot meet all their physical and mental health needs, moving them into a nursing is often the best solution. The majority of nursing homes are staffed with dedicated, caring individuals who strive to retain their residents’ dignity. Unfortunately, there are other facilities who do not hold themselves to the same high standards.
A study showed that between the years 1999 and 2001, nearly thirty-three percent of nursing homes in the United States either placed their residents in harmful situations or physically harmed their residents in some way. This is a scary statistic, and you may be wondering if the change in your parent’s behavior or appearance are caused by elder abuse.
Here are a few signs your parent is suffering from elder abuse at their nursing home facility and why it is critical to contact an attorney.
Physical Signs of Elder Abuse
One of the clearest signs of elder abuse is physical marks, including bruising, bed sores, and other suspicious marks. Often, these physical signs are symptoms of neglect. Other times, unfortunately, your parent could have been pushed or hit. Additionally, your parent might suffer the same injuries multiple times, such as a sprain or cuts, and won’t want to visit the doctor.
Unfortunately, another type of physical abuse that is suffered by nursing home residents is sexual abuse. Often, the physical signs of sexual abuse can be difficult to spot, so you must remain vigilant. Here are a few of the signs of sexual abuse in the elderly:
- Trauma, including bruises and blood, in the genitals, anal region, or breasts
- Bloody clothing
- Sudden problems sitting and walking
- Sudden and unexpected infections of the genitals or sexually transmitted diseases
Often, if there is sexual abuse occurring, you will notice an unusual and inappropriate relationship between your parent and one of their caregivers.
Signs of Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Unfortunately, emotional and psychological abuse are two of the most common types of trauma your parent will suffer at a nursing home facility. The signs of emotional and psychological abuse can be hard to recognize, especially if it was difficult for your parent to transition from their former home to the nursing home, or if your parent has a history of depression or other mental health issues.
Here are a few of the signs of emotional and psychological abuse you need to watch for:
- Depression and anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Unexpected weight loss or weight gain
- Strange behavior or self-harm, including rocking, muttering, or scratching and biting
Often, if your parent is suffering from psychological or emotional abuse, they will become noticeably agitated if one or more of their abusers enters the room.
Signs of Financial Abuse
Another common type of elder abuse is one that you might have not expected: financial abuse. Living in a nursing home facility can be very confusing and unsettling, and an adept caregiver or nursing home employee can take advantage of this. Often, the perpetrator will draw money from your parent’s bank account or seize control of their estate.
Here are a few of the most common signs of financial abuse:
- A new and unexpected close relationship with a caregiver or employee
- Missing valuables
- New names and signatures on bank accounts and financial documents
- Multiple changes to your parent’s will or other estate documents
- Confusion on the part of the parents about their recent financial changes
- Involving the abuser in their financial decisions
Sometimes, if your parent is suffering from financial abuse or manipulation, they will suddenly stop asking you to visit or may refuse to see you. This could be because they are ashamed or because the abuser is isolating them from friends and family.
If the abuser isn’t a nursing home employee, it might be a family member who is taking advantage of your parent’s vulnerability.
What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you suspect that your parent is suffering from any type of elder abuse, it is important to act quickly. Begin by documenting any signs and changes in your parent’s appearance or demeanor. For example, if you notice any sprains, bruises, or signs of sexual abuse, take photographs and write down the dates and times you noticed the abuse.
Also, take a closer look at your parent’s finances. If you notice there are any discrepancies or unexpected changes, document them, as well. The more evidence you gather, the stronger case you will have. If you believe your parent is in dire physical danger, don’t hesitate to call 911.
Move your parent out of the facility immediately, and contact an attorney. The attorney can help you gather additional evidence and build a case against the facility.
Elder abuse at nursing homes is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. If you suspect your parent is being abused, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Otorwski Morrow and Golden, PLLC.