If you plan to visit a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility
this holiday season, you may want to check for signs of elder abuse. Unfortunately,
neglect, abuse, and exploitation are all too common.
A study of 2,000 nursing home residents found that 44 percent of participants
acknowledged that they had been abused. An alarming 95 percent stated
that said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected.
Equally concerning, many cases of elder abuse go undetected. Seniors often
fail to report abuse themselves because of fear of retaliation, lack of
physical and/or cognitive ability to report, or sheer embarrassment.
With this in mind, below are several warning signs that family and friends
should watch out for:
Weight loss: If you notice your loved one is losing weight, it could be a sign that
he or she is not receiving proper nutrition and hydration. Overtime, this
condition could be life threatening.
Bruising: Bruises are always concerning because they suggest that your loved one
may have been injured in a fall, or even worse, been struck by another
patient or healthcare worker.
Falls: While the elderly are prone to falls, serious or frequent incidents may
indicate that the facility is not taking the proper precautions to keep
your loved one safe. Always investigate the causes of falls and find out
what will be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Bedsores: Pressure sores or decubitous ulcers (bedsores) are frequent signs of
neglect. They are caused by prolonged pressure on the bodies of patients
who are allowed to remain in one position for long periods of time. They
painful sores are almost always preventable.
Restraints: Nursing homes may employ a wide variety of restraints, from physical
cuffs to prescription medications. While these measures may be warranted,
some facilities use them as a means to avoid providing necessary patient
care. If you are concerned that the measures are too severe or may be
putting your loved one’s health at risk, it is important to speak up.