Making the decision to place your family member in a nursing home is something that you did not take lightly. You likely took many factors into account such as specialty care, staffing, location, size, cost and culture. Fortunately, you found a facility that provides high quality medical care and an active social environment.
A study by the AARP Foundation shows that Washington state’s long-term care system leads the nation. Yet, the growing nursing shortage has recently caused many to question what this means for senior care. Coupled with Medicare and Medicaid cuts, some nursing home facilities have had a reduction in force. An understaffed nursing home facility is one of the major contributing factors to nursing home abuse.
When nursing homes do not have enough staff to give each patient adequate attention, mistakes and neglect can happen.
How to identify physical abuse
Government studies suggest that most incidents of elder abuse go unreported. Signs of elder abuse can be difficult to recognize or mistaken for symptoms of dementia or frailty. Sometimes patients may be reluctant to talk about the abuse. If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, here are some signs to be aware of:
- Ankle sprains, broken bones or joint dislocation
- A change in behavior such as anxiety, agitation or aggression
- Unexplained signs of physical injury such as bruises, welts or scars
- A caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see the elderly person alone
- Signs of restrain from belts or ropes left on wrists, hands and ankles
- Absence of needed dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, walkers or wheelchairs
- Signs of medication mismanagement, including empty or outdated prescriptions
While these can be signs of physical abuse, it cannot be assumed that all patients with these symptoms have been subject to abuse. Any sign of abuse nevertheless merits investigation.
Knowing the warning signs and indicators of abuse can help you protect your loved ones. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse in a nursing home, it is important to speak up. Everyone deserves to live with care, dignity and respect.