sad older woman in wheelchair

Maybe you had time to research nursing homes before you placed your loved one in their new home, or maybe you needed to make an immediate placement, and you chose the nursing home as carefully as you could under the circumstances. Either way, your loved one has the right to live free from abuse and neglect. A nursing home should be a place of care and peace, not one of injury or fear.

Anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home needs to know the signs of different types of elder abuse and neglect. By understanding the signs, you may protect your loved one and help them hold the nursing home accountable for any abuse or neglect injury that occurs.

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home

Physical abuse may include assault, battery, unnecessary physical restraint, or other violence that is intended to injure the nursing home resident. Some of the signs of physical abuse include the following:

  • Bruises, including bruising in unusual locations or unusual patterns
  • Cuts or lacerations
  • Rope burns
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Welts
  • Sprains
  • Burns
  • Withdrawn behavior

Undocumented or untreated injuries may also be a sign that the injury was purposefully inflicted.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home

Sexual abuse may be difficult to think about, but it does happen in nursing homes. Some warning signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Torn or bloody clothing
  • Genital or anal bleeding, itching, or pain
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
  • Sudden depression, fear, or withdrawal
  • Bruising in the breast, genital, anal, or thigh areas
  • Unexplained difficulty sitting or walking
  • Resistance to receiving a bath or getting changed
  • Inappropriate or aggressive sexual behavior
  • Other sudden, explainable changes in personality

Warning Signs of Verbal or Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home

Verbal and emotional abuse can impact the nursing home resident's self-esteem and well-being.  The warning signs of emotional or verbal abuse are as follows:

  • Agitation
  • Unusual behavior
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Social isolation
  • The sudden onset of depression or anxiety
  • Fear of a caregiver
  • New and unexplained behaviors such as rocking, mumbling, or excessive crying

Your loved one may be able to tell you that they are being ridiculed, yelled at, or threatened.

Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

Older people are often the victims of financial abuse.  Abusers use intimidation and trickery to manipulate elderly adults so that they can take advantage of them financially.  Financial abuse can occur at a nursing home, and the signs include:

  • Missing possessions or valuables
  • Unexplained spending or bank withdrawals
  • Forged signatures on financial documents or sudden changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, insurance policies, bank accounts, or other legal documents
  • Suspicious credit card activity or purchases
  • Sudden financial action, withdrawals, or abnormal activity
  • Financial activity that your loved one could not have carried out independently of a family member, financial advisor, or lawyer

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home residents are often neglected for many reasons, such as understaffed facilities and an overall disregard for the residents' well-being.  Signs of nursing home neglect include:

  • Unclean living conditions
  • Infections
  • Bedsores, especially recurring or untreated pressure sores
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Insufficient clothing for the weather or temperature conditions
  • Lack of necessary items such as hearing aids, dentures, or glasses
  • Medical needs that are not being met
  • Medication overdose
  • Failure to follow a doctor's orders
  • Lack of dental care
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Inconsistent statements by different staff members to explain the same conditions or occurrence

What to Look for as You Walk the Nursing Home Halls

Sometimes, you just have a feeling that something is off. While the following signs do not always indicate nursing home abuse and neglect, they may cause you to talk to your loved one or investigate the nursing home further. The signs include:

  • Substandard care for residents whose family members do not visit often
  • Unchanged bed linens
  • Strong odors of urine or feces
  • Overflowing or irregularly emptied trash cans
  • Rotting food problems (including meals left in rooms for multiple hours)
  • Suspicious staff behavior, particularly if nursing home staff tries to prevent you from seeing your loved one or being alone with your loved one
  • Hazardous surroundings (faulty wiring, a lack of essential utilities, broken smoke detectors, etc.)

Has Your Loved One Been Injured in a Nursing Home?

The law is on your side when it comes to protecting your loved ones. If you know of someone who is the victim of elder abuse, there are medical, legal, and social services available to help you address the abuse and reduce the likelihood of repeated occurrences.

While it doesn't erase the past, you may be able to hold the staff member or nursing home facility legally responsible for your loved one's abuse. Kentucky nursing home abuse attorney can evaluate your case to determine if you should proceed with filing a nursing home abuse claim. If your claim is successful, your loved one or their estate may recover compensation for things like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Other losses

Proving nursing home abuse requires adequate evidence and can be very complicated. An experienced Kentucky nursing home injury lawyer can make sure that your loved one's rights are protected. If you believe your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, please speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law