Nursing homes are required to provide a safe and comfortable environment for elderly or disabled individuals who need assistance with daily living. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect can occur in these facilities, seriously harming the residents. To help protect your loved ones, it is important to learn the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. In a few situations, a resident’s injuries could lead to legal action against the nursing home and the accused abuser. If your loved one has experienced physical injury in a nursing home, consider contacting an experienced and compassionate Georgia nursing home lawyer at The Balams Firm by calling (404) 445-2005.
Identifying Nursing Home Abuse
While any nursing home resident could suffer from abuse or neglect, certain individuals may be at increased risk of being mistreated. Factors that may put an elderly or disabled person at a greater risk of abuse, whether due to increased vulnerability or a lack of support systems, include being female, being a veteran, having a mental illness, or identifying as LGBTQ+.
Identifying the specific type of abuse is crucial for providing the resident with the appropriate support. Some forms of abuse may require medical attention, and some may demand legal action. When the victim, the victim’s family, or staff can identify the specific type of abuse, the accused abuser will be prevented from harming other residents. Family members and caregivers should stay vigilant and observe any changes in a resident’s behavior or physical appearance. They may also want to report any suspicious activities or signs of abuse to the appropriate authorities. Some situations could be egregious, but a dedicated Georgia nursing home injury lawyer from The Balams Firm can help you learn how you may be able to help your loved one obtain justice.
Signs of Abuse at a Nursing Home
When someone lives at a nursing home, he or she could be susceptible to abuse. Some of the signs to look for include:
- Physical injuries
- Emotional issues
- Presence of bedsores
- Poor hygiene
- Weight changes
- Financial issues
Nursing home abuse can manifest in various physical forms, including bruises, cuts, or broken bones. Bruising, especially in areas that are not easily explained or not prone to injury, could indicate abuse. Family members might want to be aware of open wounds, cuts, or lacerations that could also indicate neglect. Unexplained injuries are also a red flag that abuse may be occurring.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, sexual abuse is also prevalent in nursing homes, especially for the most at-risk groups. Bruises and physical injuries to the buttocks, thighs, and breast areas may indicate an instance of this type of horrific abuse.
Fear, depression, and withdrawal from social activities could also signify nursing home abuse. Additionally, these residents may experience anxiety or fear around certain staff members. Many times, there is a reluctance to be alone with these individuals. Any changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits, and mood may be a sign of potential abuse or neglect. Some nursing home abuse victims may even become agitated or aggressive. Often, these mental conditions develop suddenly and without any explanation.
Presence of Bedsores
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are a common sign of neglect or abuse in nursing homes. They can be caused by a variety of factors but occur especially if a resident is not being properly turned or moved. These sores can also develop when a person does not have adequate support while lying down or sitting. Bedsores can include discoloration, redness, or open wounds on the skin. Usually, these types of sores develop on the heels, ankles, hips, back, or tailbone. If bedsores are left untreated, they can become infected and lead to serious health complications, including sepsis.
Some signs of nursing home abuse can include an unkempt appearance in the resident. Generally, these are individuals who have been forced to live in unsanitary conditions without clean bed linens. Poor hygiene can lead to various health problems, including skin infections, respiratory problems, and other illnesses. Poor hygiene can also be a sign of a lack of staff resources or training. Unfortunately, some nursing home staff members, though not necessarily abusive, may have a lack of respect for the dignity and rights of the residents.
Sudden weight loss is another common sign of neglect or abuse in nursing homes. Malnutrition can be caused by not providing residents with enough to eat or not giving them the proper types of food to meet their dietary needs. Lack of access to food or water, caused by staff neglect or abuse, may lead to weight loss in the residents. Any significant change in weight can be serious in an elderly or disabled person. In some situations, these issues may be life-threatening if not addressed in a timely manner.
A sudden change in a resident’s financial situation can signify financial exploitation or abuse in a nursing home. Financial abuse may be perpetrated by staff, family members, or strangers. Often, these issues can be challenging to detect. Some signs of financial abuse include:
- Withdrawing large sums of money from the resident’s bank account
- Making changes to the resident’s will or power of attorney
- Unexplained or unusual transfer of assets
- Failing to pay bills or other signs of financial neglect
- Being coerced or forced to sign a power of attorney or other legal document
- Missing personal belongings or valuables
- Missing financial statements or credit card bills
- Limiting access to bank accounts or credit cards
Financial abuse can have serious consequences for the resident. A resident who is a victim of this type of abuse may experience a loss of assets, depletion of financial resources, and even homelessness.
Nursing Home Abuse Has Serious Consequences
Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that can harm the health and well-being of elderly or disabled residents. Therefore, family members, caregivers, and visitors should be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect. If anyone is concerned that abuse or neglect is occurring, he or she can file a complaint through the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Reach Out to a Compassionate Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
Understanding the signs of nursing home abuse can help protect vulnerable individuals and ensure that they receive the care and dignity they deserve. Remaining vigilant will help to make sure that nursing homes are safe, healthy environments for family members. If your loved one has experienced neglect or abuse in a nursing home, consider contacting an experienced Georgia nursing home abuse attorney at The Balams Firm by calling (404) 445-2005 to schedule a consultation today.