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How to Identify Nursing Home Abuse

| May 15, 2020

The American population is aging rapidly. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. Adults over the age of 65 are also projected to make up a much larger percentage of the general population, from 15% today to 24% by 2060. What this means is that the number of Americans entering nursing homes and other assisted living facilities over the next few decades is going to soar, exposing many more people to the dangers of nursing home abuse than ever before.

In this post, we will identify some of the warning signs that a nursing home resident is suffering from abuse and what you can do to stop it.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Direct evidence of nursing home abuse is difficult to procure for several reasons. First, it often occurs behind closed doors, out of the sight of facility supervisors and the nursing home resident’s family members. Second, many nursing home residents may be unaware that they are being abused due to their deteriorated mental states. And third, even if they are aware that they are being abused, many nursing home residents will not report it due to embarrassment or fear of consequences.

As such, evidence that nursing home abuse is occurring must often be inferred using circumstantial evidence. Some of the most common signs that a nursing home resident is suffering from various forms of abuse include:

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained weight loss or dehydration
  • Unexplained injuries such as scars, bruises, or welts
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Signs that the resident has been restrained (like marks on wrists)
  • Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions
  • Drug overdosing or underdosing

Emotional Abuse

  • Rapid or unusual mood swings
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • The resident appears scared, depressed or withdrawn
  • The resident engages in self-harming behaviors
  • The resident’s caregiver refuses or is reluctant to let the resident see anyone alone
  • Dementia-like symptoms, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling

Sexual Abuse

  • Bruising around the breasts, genitals, or anus
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothes
  • Contraction of a sexually-transmitted disease
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If a family member or close friend is displaying one or more of the above symptoms of nursing home abuse, a good starting point to address the problem would be to speak to a nursing home supervisor or a person in authority. If that is unsuccessful, you might want to contact a state agency that is responsible for monitoring the wellbeing of seniors, such as the Maryland Office of Adult Services or the Maryland Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Another good option would be to speak to an elder law attorney who will be able to evaluate your case to determine whether you may take legal action against the facility in question.

Contact a Waldorf Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Nursing home abuse is a very serious matter that often requires swift action to stop it from occurring. If you suspect that someone you care about is suffering from abuse in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, contact the Waldorf nursing home abuse lawyers at the Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles for a consultation by calling 301-705-5006.