Types Of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse takes many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial. The vulnerability of older adults makes them an easy target for predators and those seeking to exploit them.
Unfortunately, elderly persons do not always have the ability to speak out about their mistreatment. In some cases, they may fear the consequences of reporting their abuser. If you have an elderly family member who lives in a nursing home or requires the assistance of a caregiver, learning to recognize the signs of common types of nursing home abuse can better help you protect them.
Physical abuse is the intentional infliction of injury or pain. Examples include punching, kicking, slapping, shaking, and shoving the victim. Unnecessary restraint of an elderly person, physically or medically, is also a type of physical abuse.
Symptoms of physical abuse include:
- Unexplained bruising
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
Purposeful overmedicating and issuing the wrong medication can also constitute abuse.
Caregivers may explain away injuries or attribute them to the victim’s clumsiness. However, if the victim suffers repeated injuries that they cannot explain or do not want to discuss, family members should consider the possibility of abuse.
Emotional abuse occurs when someone causes mental or psychological pain and anguish through verbal or non-verbal actions. Examples of verbal abuse include:
- Isolating or ignoring the victim
Although the symptoms of emotional abuse may not be obvious, watch for unexplained anxiety, depression, fearfulness, agitation, or withdrawal. Emotional abuse can lead to other types of nursing home or elder abuse, including financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation is the fraudulent misuse of the victim’s cash, possessions, and assets. Examples include forging checks, using credit or debit cards without permission, identify theft, and opening new accounts.
The abuser may trick or coerce the victim into signing over assets, giving over power of attorney, or revising their will.
Other types of elder financial abuse include scams and fraudulent billing schemes. For example, a nursing home may overbill the victim or bill for services they did not provide.
Neglect is the failure to provide necessary and reasonable care. Basic needs neglect includes failing to provide food, water, comfort, or personal care. Medical neglect is the failure to provide necessary medical treatment.
Symptoms may include undiagnosed or untreated medical conditions, missed or incorrect doses of medication, dirty clothing or bedding, dehydration, and malnutrition.
Improper or insufficient wound care is a common form of neglect in the nursing home environment. Wounds from surgical procedures, pressure ulcers, and other injuries require ongoing care to prevent secondary infections and other complications.
Sexual abuse is any type of non-consensual sexual contact, as well as forcing the victim to disrobe or view sexually explicit content. The abuser may expose themselves to the victim.
Signs of sexual elder abuse include UTIs, STDs, unexplained pelvic pain, bruising, or bleeding, and trouble walking or sitting down. Emotional signs resemble those of psychological abuse, such as anxiety, withdrawal, and fearfulness.
Consequences of Nursing Home Abuse
In some cases, a victim may die from their injuries. If this occurs, the victim’s family may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
Bed sores are a common form of elder abuse, especially in nursing homes and residential care centers. Bedsores develop when caregivers neglect a bedridden or wheelchair-bound patient or fail to take the actions necessary to prevent pressure sore development. The most common locations for bedsores are the back, buttocks, and hips, although they can occur anywhere on the body.
There are several stages of bedsores. Left untreated, bedsores develop into painful and life-threatening infections. These infections may persist for months or years, requiring extensive medical treatment. In some cases, victims may die from complications related to bedsores.
When nursing homes and caregivers neglect the basic needs of elder adults, such as failing to provide adequate food and water, victims can develop dehydration or malnutrition. Left undetected, victims can die from these conditions.
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