July 3, 2022
Early detection of the signs of nursing home abuse empowers victims and their families to take action before things worsen. Also if abuse is suspected to be committed against one victim, it is likely to expose a more widespread pattern of abuse towards other nursing home residents. As a lawyer from a leading law firm Bethesda MD, Brown Keily, LLP can explain, those who have family in nursing homes or assisted living will benefit from familiarizing themselves with the signs of abuse, so that action can be taken more quickly if abuse is ever suspected.
The various signs of abuse range widely in severity and may not always be immediately apparent. Such signs can range from occasional neglect of basic needs, to severe physical abuse.
Initially noticed signs tend to be physical, but there are also psychological cues that can indicate that your loved one may be a victim of abuse.
Physical signs of abuse:
- Physical abuse warning signs
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Broken and fractured bones
- Bruises, burns, and welts on the skin
- Cuts, lacerations, and skin tears
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep disorders
- Head and dental injuries
- Illness or infection
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Other nursing home injuries
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living
The term “nursing home abuse” is a general term used to describe a wide range of abusive practices, not only limited to physical actions that resulted in physical injury. It also includes sexual battery, emotional harm, and psychological abuse. Having a reasonable level of awareness of the signs is essential to taking action when abuse is suspected, and may prevent further abuse to other residents.
When nursing home staff members are aware that abusive behaviors are being demonstrated, they are also committing abuse. Physical abuse includes, pushing, kicking, hitting, and anything that causes physical pain or injury to the resident. By members of staff enabling continuation of such physically abusive behaviors, they too are committing abuse.
This includes any kind of action that negatively impacts or otherwise degrades the psychological state of a nursing home resident. Yelling, verbally degrading, taunting, or insulting a resident in a way that is intended to be hurtful are all common examples of emotional abuse that can make a patient’s experience a living nightmare. Emotional abuse is known to contribute to long term anxiety and depression, especially among already physically vulnerable nursing home residents.
By leaving a nursing home resident unattended for periods of time that are longer than what is necessary or safe for them, neglect is being committed. Neglect can also lead to physical harm, such as malnutrition, bedsores, and increases the risk of being left for an extended period of time after being injured in a fall.
Nursing home residents are also vulnerable to potential sexual abuse. Any form of touching or sexual advances can constitute sexual abuse. Residents who are immobile or incapacitated are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse while under care of nursing home staff.