Elder Abuse the Warning Signs
When the time comes for our aging loved ones to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility, we are faced with the difficult task of finding just the right place. We speak with neighbors and friends, ask for professional recommendations, and tour the different facilities. Even after the most careful search, unforeseen problems can arise. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide a safe, caring environment, staffed by hard-working professionals. Sometimes, however, problems arise.
Elder abuse is a disturbingly common problem across the country. The law protects the safety and dignity of the elderly in these facilities, but to enforce these laws the authorities need to know there is abuse taking place.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, keep a watchful eye on these 7 warning signs during your visits.
- Sudden weight loss or dehydration. Both may be due to normal aging issues or medication side effects, but both may also be warning signs of abuse. Ask your loved one and their doctor about this.
- Bruises, burns, and other unexplained injuries. Any injury deserves an explanation. Ask both your loved one and the staff to explain the injury and verify that they are the same explanation.
- Bedsores. Bed or chair-ridden patients are at risk for bedsores, or pressure sores. If the staff is attentive to the patients, moving them regularly, this should not be a problem. If your loved one is suffering from bedsores, neglect may be to blame.
- Use of restraints. Restraints can be both physical (arm and leg restraints or cuffs) and chemical (heavy sedatives). It is not appropriate to restrain an elderly patient in most circumstances. Watch for signs of restraint like scars on the wrists and ask about any new drugs that your loved one is being asked to take.
- Staff inattention. Caregivers are often overworked and underpaid, but there is no excuse for not giving due attention to the patients under their care. Make sure your loved one’s hygiene is being attended to and that their prescriptions are being properly dispensed.
- Unsanitary/unsafe conditions. Every patient deserves a clean and safe living environment. There should not be dirt, bugs, or soiled bedding and clothes. There should be heat and running water. Watch for fire hazards.
- Financial issues. To make sure your loved one is not being exploited financially, keep an eye on their bank and credit card statements. If there are transactions at places your loved one couldn’t possibly be, there is probably a problem. Also watch for unnecessary services or subscriptions.
If you suspect that a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact our office immediately.