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What Are The Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse and Neglect?

The warning signs of elder abuse and neglect can include unexplained cuts, bruises, and fractures. Other warning signs include psychological and emotional symptoms as well as missing valuables and untreated illnesses. Learning to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect can help you protect a vulnerable loved one who lives in a residential care facility.

Some of the most common signs of elder abuse and neglect include the following:

Unexplained Bruises, Cuts, and Broken Bones

Unexplained cuts, bruises, fractures, and other injuries are common symptoms of physical abuse in elder care facilities and nursing homes. Because many nursing home residents are at an increased risk of falls, it can be difficult to determine whether these are accidental or not.

However, if the victim has no current illness or physical condition that could lead to falling, family members should consider the possibility that their loved one has been the victim of elder abuse.

Depression and Anxiety

The sudden onset of depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues may be a warning sign of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse in the nursing home setting. If the victim has no existing conditions that could explain these developments, family members should investigate the situation further and seek help for the victim.

Sudden Fearfulness

If an elderly person living in a nursing home suddenly becomes fearful, it may be a warning sign of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. This is especially true if the victim becomes panicked or fearful when visitors prepare to leave or when they face being left alone with a specific staff member or medical practitioner.

Recurring Urinary Tract Infections

When a nursing home resident suffers from recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs), it may be a warning sign of sexual abuse. Staff members may dismiss your concerns. However, if the victim has not previously suffered from this condition, family members may have cause to suspect elder abuse.

Missing Valuables

If a loved one mentions missing personal possessions, particularly jewelry and other items of value, it may be a warning sign of financial exploitation. When an elder experiences nursing home financial abuse, you may also notice missing cash, checks, or credit cards.

Refusing Visitors

If a nursing home resident suddenly refuses visitors without explanation, it can be a warning sign of elder abuse. The victim may not want to explain bruises or other injuries and they may fear the inevitable questions from loved ones. Another potential warning sign is the nursing home refusing to allow the resident to be alone with their visitors.

Dementia Symptoms

Although many older adults are at risk for dementia, the sudden onset of symptoms seemingly related to dementia may be a warning sign of elder abuse. The symptoms of dementia, including confusion, irritability, depression, insomnia, and trouble walking, are also symptoms of elder abuse, particularly psychological and sexual abuse.

Advanced Stage Bedsores

Bedsores are a common warning sign of neglect. In the nursing home environment, bedridden and wheelchair-bound residents can develop bedsores (pressure sores or ulcers) if staff members fail to provide adequate attention and wound care. Left untreated, they can cause serious complications or wrongful death.

Dirty Clothing & Soiled Bedding

If you notice your loved one wearing dirty clothes or lying in soiled bedding in a nursing home, it may be a clear warning sign of elder neglect. Nursing home neglect, including denying residents basic services such as food, water, and hygiene, places victims at risk for secondary infection and other serious health conditions.

Withdrawal & Inhibited Speech

If your loved one becomes withdrawn and unwilling or unable to speak clearly, it may indicate the presence of nursing home abuse. Victims of abuse may withdraw due to fear or injuries the received from an abuser. Unless the victim’s doctor can identify a health-related cause for this change, family members should consider getting help for their loved one.

Unexplained Falls

Because elderly people sometimes fall and injure themselves, you may not question an unexplained nursing home fall now and then. However, unless your loved one has a medical condition that explains falling, family members should consider this a warning sign of elder abuse. Nursing home staff may blame clumsiness and falling for bruises, cuts, fractures, and dislocations when, in fact, the victim is experiencing physical abuse.

It can also be a sign of neglect if your loved one has a fall prevention plan the nursing home staff are not following.

Trouble Walking or Sitting Down

If a nursing home resident suddenly struggles to walk or sit down, it could be a warning sign of elder abuse, specifically sexual abuse. Other warning signs include bruising and bleeding in the genital area. However, those symptoms may not be readily visible to visitors. Unless the victim’s doctor can identify a medical cause, consider seeking help for your loved one.

If you suspect that a loved one living in a nursing home or residential care facility is experiencing elder abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to seek help. In many cases, victims do not report their abuse due to communication challenges, fear, or psychological manipulation. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you access the resources you need to get your loved one the safe environment and medical care they need.

Call 1-800-516-4783 now for help.