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Recognizing Elder Abuse

| Category: Nursing Home Abuse | June 16, 2023

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month – a month dedicated to raising awareness about the widespread abuse that occurs in nursing homes across the country. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused, you should contact a nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. 

Elder Abuse Can Take on Different Forms

Some people abuse the elderly for sadistic reasons, while others abuse the elderly for personal gain. As a result, elder abuse can look different, depending on the context in which it is taking place. To be able to protect our loved ones, we need to be able to recognize elder abuse in all its forms:  

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Confinement or restraint
  • Financial abuse

Some forms of abuse, such as physical abuse or neglect, may be easier to recognize than others that are easier to hide. If you have someone you love in a nursing home, do not hesitate to reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer if you suspect they are being abused in some way. 

Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse

Probably the biggest challenge we face when it comes to elder abuse is that the victims are often unable to speak for themselves. This may be because they are afraid that the abuse will get worse if they speak up or it may be that they are unaware that they are being abused. In some cases, they may have tried to report it, but no one believed them because they are in cognitive decline. As a result, the most important thing you can do is to trust your instincts – if you think something is wrong, do not hesitate to investigate or get help. That said, here are some signs that your elderly loved one may be suffering abuse or neglect: 

  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Significant changes in their personality
  • They seem unusually or unreasonably anxious or afraid, especially around nursing home staff
  • They have poor hygiene, are dirty and unkempt
  • Their general health seems to have rapidly declined
  • Loss of appetite
  • Physical injuries such as cuts, bruises, abrasions, or burns that they cannot or won’t explain

Certain types of abuse may have unique symptoms. For example, emotional or psychological abuse can create a great deal of confusion for the victim. Sexual abuse is often discovered when the victim is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI). 

Financial abuse often goes unrecognized until it is too late. Some of the signs that your elderly loved one is being financially abused include the following: 

  • Unexplained withdrawals from their savings or checking accounts
  • Sudden financial difficulties
  • They have a lack of awareness concerning their financial affairs or are confused
  • Liquidation of assets
  • Significant changes to estate documents
  • Delegation of financial control to someone else

Whether it is financial or physical abuse, your loved one needs someone on their side. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you understand your options and get your loved one the help they need. 

What to Do if Your Loved One is a Victim of Abuse

It can be overwhelming to learn that the people you trusted were taking advantage of the person you placed in their care. However, the sooner you take action, the sooner your loved one can get the help they need. Here are the steps you should take if you believe your loved one is being abused: 

  • Document the abuse. Take photographs and gather whatever documentation you can. We also recommend that you keep detailed notes about what you saw or were told with as much detail as possible. 
  • Consider contacting the police. In situations where a crime has been committed, such as sexual abuse or physical abuse, the fastest way to protect your loved one is to get the police involved immediately. 
  • Contact your ombudsman. Maryland has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that is tasked with helping those who reside in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There is an ombudsman for each county in Maryland who will advocate for nursing home residents, investigate potential issues, and resolve problems.
  • Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. Even if the police or the ombudsman are involved, you may be able to pursue a civil claim against abusers, including the nursing home, for your loved one’s injuries and other losses.

Talk to Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Thomas E. Pyles Today

At the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles, we believe that our loved ones deserve the best care we can provide. When they suffer abuse or neglect in a nursing home, we know how to hold their abusers accountable. To discuss your case and how we can help, call us today at 301-705-5006 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.