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Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Posted by attorney George Davis

The subject of nursing home abuse can be a very uncomfortable one, especially if you have a loved one that you suspect is being treated unfairly or even neglected. Below is a list of signs to look for when suspecting that an elder may be subject to nursing abuse or neglect.

Physical Abuse

If you suspect elderly abuse, but aren't sure, look for clusters of the following physical and behavioral signs:

  • Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
  • Changes in personality or behavior in the elder
  • Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two side of the body
  • Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should)
  • Broken eyeglasses or frames
  • Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone

Emotional abuse

In addition to the general signs above, indications of emotional elder abuse can include:

  • Threatening, belittling, or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness
  • Behavior from the elder that mimics dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself

Neglect by caregivers or self-neglect

  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
  • Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
  • Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes
  • Being left dirty or unbathed
  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
  • Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)
  • Desertion of the elder at a public place

Financial exploitation

  • Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts
  • Sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition
  • Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
  • Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies
  • Addition of names to the senior’s signature card
  • Unpaid bills or lack of medical care, although the elder has enough money to pay for them
  • Financial activity the senior couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden
  • Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions

Healthcare fraud and abuse

  • Duplicate billings for the same medical service or device
  • Evidence of over medication or under-medication
  • Evidence of inadequate care when bills are paid in full
  • Problems with the care facility:
  • Poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient staff
  • Inadequate responses to questions about care

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