You can no longer care for your loved one at home, and you’ve finally found the right nursing home for them. Putting your trust in a long-term care facility, you expect your loved one to be safe and well taken care of, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Nursing home employees have reported that two in three staff members have committed some type of elder abuse.
There is no guarantee that your loved ones can or will tell you when they are being abused, but that could be from fear. Of course, you’d rather them be at home with you, but when you can no longer meet their care needs, you have to entrust care facilities. You just have to be very observant of their behaviors and pay close attention to the signs of abuse.
The most common type of elder abuse is psychological abuse. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is not always easy to spot. There are many types of psychological abuse. For instance, the staff may insult or intimidate your loved one, isolate them, or not allow them access to needed resources. They can also threaten them to keep them from reporting the abuse.
There are several warning signs to watch out for to identify the psychological abuse of your loved one. First, being afraid. If you notice that your loved one is showing fear they never showed before, there’s a good chance abuse is happening. Another sign would be depression and anxiety that is new or worsening. Are they more withdrawn and less talkative than they used to be? Paranoia and confusion are other signs that psychological abuse may be occurring. One fundamental way to lower the risk of abuse is to make regular visits and engage in their social activities.
Financial abuse is fairly common in nursing homes. This type of abuse can be hard to spot sometimes, and your loved one may not even be aware it is happening. Some signs of financial abuse are when their personal belongings go missing. There are significant withdrawals from their account that they do not remember, and they may experience feelings of confusion because they do not know where items went or why their finances are not in good order.
Physical abuse is the one most people hear the most about and may not be as easy to spot as one may think. Typical signs of physical abuse can be injuries attributed to frequent falls. Has your loved one started falling more than they used to? Bruises or welts on the skin that can not be explained or do not sound right are definite signs. Also, bedsores are a type of physical abuse in the form of neglect. This occurs when your loved one isn’t being turned as frequent as they should, thus, leaving them in one position for extended periods of time, cutting off circulation to those areas of the body experiencing the most pressure. Bedsores are typically located on the back and buttocks.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is the most underreported type of elder abuse. This can be due to the victim’s fear. Signs of this type of abuse could be inner thigh bruising but can be easily hidden by clothing. If your loved one used to enjoy being hugged and touched, then suddenly starts flinching away, that can be a sign of sexual abuse. Another sign of sexual abuse is if a loved one shows signs of depression or anxiety that were not there previously.
Neglect of your loved one can occur for many different reasons. One of the most frequent reasons is inexperienced staff and inadequate staffing. Some long-term care facilities may be unaware of the time it takes to properly care for a resident, therefore, assigning too many residents per staff member.
At the end of the day, abuse and neglect is no matter to be taken lightly. If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, you need to take action immediately.
Remember, you’re their advocate when no one else is, so it’s very important to learn the signs and then look for the signs in your loved one. If you suspect even the slightest hint of abuse or neglect, you need to report it immediately.
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