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What are the signs of nursing home neglect or abuse?

When a loved one is placed in the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, family members expect that he or she will be treated with care and respect. In many cases, facilities follow through on their promises to provide a high level of care.

However, there are some facilities that do not live up to the expectations they have presented, and their vulnerable patients become victims of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, this horrific treatment is not always easy to spot, especially when a person is not regularly visited by friends or family members. But there are certain red flags that could suggest a person is being mistreated, and if these are identified, legal action may be appropriate.

Depending on the type of abuse that may be occurring, there are certain things that people should be aware of and address as soon as they are identified, according to the Administration on Aging.

For example, if abuse or neglect is physical, the signs could include:

  • Bed sores
  • Infections
  • Rapid deterioration of a patient's physical capabilities
  • Unresponsiveness, possibly stemming from over-medication

Abuse could also be financial, as elderly patients can have difficultly managing finances and remembering things such as who can be trusted with sensitive information. Signs of financial abuse could include:

  • Irregular or significant withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Sudden and dramatic changes to estate plans or wills

Finally, elderly patients could also be victims of sexual abuse due to their compromised mental and physical capabilities. If a patient is being sexually abused, there may be:

  • Unexplained bruising or abrasions in genital areas
  • Fears of being touched, even by loved ones
  • Depression

One of these indicators may not be a sure sign of abuse; but it should be enough to alert family members or loved ones that a patient's care needs to be more closely monitored. 

If there are legitimate fears that a person is being abused or neglected in a nursing home by the very people tasked with caring for him or her, friends and relatives may want to seriously consider speaking with an attorney to explore their legal options. Even if nursing home patients cannot understand or articulate the traumatic treatment they have endured, others can fight on their behalf to protect them.

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