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Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

By: Anapol Weiss

Sadly, nursing home abuse is a very common issue in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents may be hesitant or unable to report nursing home abuse or neglect. As a result, family members and loved ones should be aware of the warning signs or red flags that might signify a problem. If you suspect nursing home neglect, speak to a nursing home abuse attorney in Philadelphia as soon as possible.

  • A general decline of health, related to preventable causes. A person experiencing nursing home neglect or abuse may become dehydrated or lose weight from malnutrition. Common signs include sunken eyes, tenting of the skin, dry skin, or refusal of meals, which could be due to emotional upset or fear.

  • The presence of bedsores. Often, these painful medical conditions arise from provider neglect, and are largely preventable.

  • Unexplained injuries. Infections, breaks, or bruises arising from falls could signal neglect or false imprisonment, a condition where a facility limits availability to mobility-assisting devices to keep a resident in a certain area.

  • Changes in behavior around certain members of nursing home staff. When a resident is reluctant to speak around nursing home staff members, it could be a warning sign of verbal or mental abuse.

  • Erratic behavior or tantrum-like episodes. A condition called false dementia, rapid or unexplainable changes in behavior is often indicative of abuse.

  • Unsanitary or unclean conditions. Soiled bed sheets, the smell of urine or body odor, or clothes that remain unchanged between visits could indicate neglect or physical abuse.

  • Changes in spending habits or sudden amendments in wills or deeds may indicate financial abuse.

  • A resident suddenly wanting to be alone or isolating himself or herself from others. Often, this is a sign of emotional or mental abuse.

  • Any fracture. While older people are more likely to experience fractures from simple actions like falls, accidents like this are preventable under the watchful eye of a nursing home facility. Any fracture merits concern and a report to a nursing home supervisor.

Nursing and Elder Abuse Statistics

Nursing home facilities should be safe places for our loved ones when they can no longer care for themselves. Unfortunately, this vulnerable population can experience abuse and neglect, even where they should be the safest.

  • The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that the prevalence of abuse is as high as 10% and includes physical, sexual, verbal, and financial abuse, as well as neglect.

  • Verbal abuse is the most common type of nursing home and elder abuse, followed by financial abuse.

  • Adult Protective Services data suggests that reports of elder abuse are increasing throughout the United States.

  • Unfortunately, elder and nursing home abuse still goes unreported. For every case reported, as many as 24 cases are unknown.

The Negative Effects of Nursing Home Abuse

The nature of abuse varies widely, and the consequences can be temporary or permanent. Often, a resident must endure the long-term emotional consequences of the abuse, such as lack of trust, fear, or irrational behavior. While emotional abuse has an immediate impact on a resident’s well-being, it can also cause ripple effects well into the future. Physical abuse, in turn, can have emotional consequences as well as the immediate damage to a victim’s body.

Financial abuse can also result in devastating long-term consequences by depleting a residents financial resources and depriving them of future medical treatment or essential care. Having an attorney represent a victim of nursing home abuse is essential, so he or she can recoup the full value of his or her losses as well as demand fair compensation for the pain, suffering, and other immaterial damages he or she suffered as a result of the abuse. An attorney can also help a family identify criminal charges against a defendant and hold him or her accountable for his or her actions.