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Signs of abuse or neglect in a nursing home facility

Nursing home facilities are supposed to be places where loved ones with health care needs can get the attention and treatment they need. We also expect them to be places where our loved ones are treated with dignity and compassion.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. In facilities across the state, there are nursing home residents who are victims of abuse and neglect. Because these victims cannot always speak up or fight back, it can be up to family members to take action to protect them. This means keeping an eye out for signs of mistreatment or poor care in a nursing home.

Physical signs

Physical signs of abuse or neglect are perhaps the easiest to spot. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bed sores
  • Bruises
  • Marks from restraints
  • Dehydration
  • Overmedication
  • Unexplained injuries

Emotional signs

The signs of abuse or neglect are not always in the form of physical injuries. A person exhibiting the following emotional signs can be the victim of abuse.

  • Fear of staff members
  • Significant declines in mental health
  • Withdrawal from previously-enjoyed activities
  • Increased emotional distress and anxiety
  • Dramatic changes in eating, sleeping or speaking habits

Other signs

Other signs that a facility or staff member is failing to provide proper care include:

  • Insufficient staff levels
  • Dirty, dangerous common areas
  • Staff member inability or unwillingness to answer questions
  • Long response times to call buttons

While one of these signs alone may not indicate abuse, it could be a red flag that family members should note and follow up on. Keeping track of this information can help you get a better picture of the care your loved one is -- or is not -- receiving.

If you believe your loved one is at risk for elder abuse, taking action immediately will be crucial. This includes being diligent and documenting instances of mistreatment, filing a report and examining the options for taking legal action.

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