When you place your loved one in a nursing home or continuing care facility, you want to feel confident that he or she is going to receive the best possible care. Regrettably, however, this is not always the case at American nursing homes, with nursing home abuse and neglect relatively common occurrences at some facilities.
The prevalence of nursing home abuse is hard to pin down due in part to the fact that many older people are unable or uncomfortable coming forward to report such instances. Abuse and neglect are more likely to occur in facilities with poorly trained, overworked and underpaid staff members, but because you cannot always be present to spot it, it is important to learn to recognize potential signs.
Obvious signs of nursing home abuse
In some cases, the signs of nursing home abuse are overt, and they might include unusual bruises, burns and abrasions or obvious infections. Other possible indications include your loved one suffering hair loss or exhibiting signs of poor hygiene, such as smelling or soiling his or herself. Rashes and bed sores may also indicate a problem within your loved one’s care facility, as can bloody or dirty clothing.
Less-obvious signs of nursing home abuse
In some cases, nursing home abuse manifests in ways that are not obvious or easily visible to the naked eye. For example, you may notice personality changes in your loved one. He or she may show signs of regressing to an earlier age, or you may feel as if he or she is withdrawing from you or other family members and friends. You may also begin to suspect nursing home abuse if you notice your loved one’s valuables starting to disappear.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, act promptly. If you are wrong, you may rest better at night knowing your loved one remains in good hands. If you are right, you may prevent your loved one from suffering continued abuse and potentially save his or her life.