How can I tell if my loved one is being abused?

Anyone who has had to put a loved one into a nursing home knows how difficult it can be to trust the health and well-being of a relative to a stranger. With more and more nursing home abuse and neglect stories making it to the news, ensuring your loved one's health and safety has never been a bigger priority. Doing your research and selecting the best facility you can afford is a good way to decrease the risk of abuse, but knowing the warning signs is also important to catch and deal with any issues promptly.

Physical signs are often present in victims of nursing home abuse, but because these patients are usually of advanced age, it can be difficult to determine what are signs of abuse and what is part of the aging process. For example, an elderly person's skin is likely to be thinner and more easily injured, but any unexplained bruises or other skin injuries may indicate an issue. Sudden unexplained weight loss, bruising around the genitals, a sudden drop in hygiene or bedsores are also physical signs that may point to nursing home neglect.

However, abuse is not always physical, and a sudden change in your loved one's financial status or personality can also signify a problem. Staff members may be exploiting the patients by siphoning funds or may be harassing and belittling them as part of emotional and mental abuse. Abuse also does not always come at the hands of the facility staff. Other patients, family members and even spouses can also be perpetrators of elder abuse.

If you have concerns that someone you love who is in a nursing home or other care facility is not being treated properly, talking over your options with an attorney can help you understand the next steps.

Source: Administration for Community Living, "What is Elder Abuse?," accessed May. 15, 2015

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