How and why nursing home abuse happens

The pamphlet for the assisted care facility you helped your parent move into have been glossy, colorful and included a detailed list of exactly all the amenities your mom or dad had on their wish list. Maybe every employee you ever interacted with always greeted you with smiles and kindness during your weekly visits with your loved one, but sometimes even the prettiest things still have flaws.

Sadly, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 10% of those 65 years and older experience abuse each year. This statistic includes seniors who’ve opted for home care, but those who move out of their home to receive professional care fall victim to physical and emotional abuse as well. To make sure your loved one’s care is up to par, you should be mindful of how abuse happens in nursing homes and some of the warning signs.

Sources of abuse

Both individual staff members as well as a lack of leadership and training at nursing homes can lead to abuse. For example, if a facility doesn’t hire enough staff members, residents can suffer from neglect. Neglect can then lead to dangerous effects, like dehydration or loneliness — both of which can lead to larger problems if left untreated.

Even if there are plenty of staff members, there could be inadequate training methods. And when there aren’t uniform procedures to perform basic care tasks, like administer medications or operate wheelchairs, then residents can greatly suffer.

Signs of abuse

You can find out if your loved one is suffering from abuse by keeping an eye out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Physical signs: As people age, so do their bones and muscles. So, as your aging parent becomes more familiar with their ever-changing body, the occasional slip or fall can happen. But, if your aging parent has consistent cuts, sores or bruises that they can’t explain, then they might suffer from abuse.
  • Emotional signs: Aging also brings on natural emotional changes, as coping with new physical limitations or ongoing illnesses can cause distress. However, some signs of emotional abuse to look out for in your elderly parent, include fear, loss of interest in everyday activities and rocking back and forth.

Detecting abuse can be difficult, but it’s worth checking in on aging loved ones to preserve their life and safety.

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