Elderly who live in long-term care facilities are at particular risk for abuse and neglect because most suffer from conditions that lead to limitations in physical and cognitive functioning and are wholly dependent on their caretakers. It can result in medical emergencies, psychological trauma, permanent injuries, and even death. Sadly, nursing home neglect is shockingly prevalent due to issues like understaffing, underpayment of caretakers, inadequate training, and burnout due to excess work. To make matters more challenging, nursing home abuse is grossly underreported by the residents themselves due to fears of retaliation, or inability to speak out. Thus, is important to be attentive to common signs that may indicate nursing home abuse.
Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include the following:
- Having unexplained injuries such as fractures, dislocations, or cuts
- Bruising, bed sores, scars or welts seen on the body
- Soiling, poor hygiene, strong body odor, smell of urine or feces
- Dehydration and/or malnutrition
- Signs of restraint, such as rope marks on the patient’s wrist
- The refusal of the caregiver to let you be alone with the elderly person
Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse of the elderly include the following:
- Unusual behavior in the elderly person can resemble symptoms of dementia, including mumbling behaviors, sucking one’s thumb, or rocking behaviors.
- The victim might display unusual behavior changes (not wanting to be touched, biting, the appearance of a speech disorder).
- Sudden change in alertness or behavior, including signs of fear, withdrawing from activities previously enjoyed
- Elder becomes upset and/or agitated, withdrawn or non-communicative, especially around nursing home staff.
- Witnessing belittling, controlling, or threatening behavior on the part of the caregiver.
Signs of sexual abuse of the elderly include the following:
- Bruising near the genitals or around the breasts
- Unexplained STDs or other genital infections
- Vaginal or anal bleeding unrelated to a medical condition
Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
The elderly person is particularly prone to financial exploitation. Signs of financial abuse include:
- Drastic changes in the elderly person’s financial situation
- Changes in life insurance policies, power of attorney documents, property titles or wills
- Missing cash or valuable items from the elder’s room
- Unexplained withdrawals from the elderly person’s bank accounts
- Adding authorized users to the elder’s credit cards
- Elder’s credit rating declines drastically
- Unusual goods, services, or subscriptions the elder is unlikely to acquire or authorize
- ATM withdrawals when the senior is bedridden and couldn’t have done it themselves
If the elder/patient complains that he or she is being abused or neglected, ask questions, and take steps to further investigate the matter. If you believe someone you care for has been harmed by abuse or neglect in a Florida nursing home, let Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen help. Our nursing home abuse lawyers stand up for the rights of long-term care facility residents and their families. We can help you alert authorities and investigate the treatment of your loved one.