Almost two million older Americans live in nursing homes or other assisted living facilities. These nursing home residents rightfully expect to be well cared for and safe from harm in such facilities.

Unfortunately, nursing homes are all too often under-staffed by improperly trained or disgruntled workers. Some staff members may easily become impatient when dealing with mentally or physically frail nursing home residents and unfortunately sometimes take advantage of their relative dominance over such residents. While most people are familiar with physical abuse and the harmful effects, nursing home abuse can also occur when a staff member chooses to assert their dominance in a way that is emotionally harmful to the elderly resident.

People report almost 500,000 cases of nursing home abuse each year, though authorities suspect that millions more cases remain unreported. No nursing home resident should ever have to deal with abuse.

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Just like any other type of abuse, nursing home abuse may take many forms. Some of the most common forms include:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Sexual abuse; and
  • Neglect.

Some of these forms of abuse may be more readily apparent than others. For instance, emotional abuse usually does not result in any physical symptoms. Sometimes, even physical abuse may be difficult to detect because nursing home staff can claim the resident simply slipped, fell, or had another type of accident common to the elderly. For this reason, if you have elderly loved ones in a nursing home, you should make sure they trust you enough to tell you the truth about what happened.

You should also pay attention to any possible warning signs that your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse. Some warning signs may include:

  • Unexplained and unusual injuries, such as bruises or contusions;
  • Having several wounds, all in different stages of healing;
  • Marks on wrists or other possible signs of restraint;
  • Sudden fear of being approached or of physical contact;
  • Shifts in behavior, mood, or demeanor, such as suddenly acting agitated or withdrawn;
  • Discomfort around certain staff members;
  • Staff member seems reluctant to allow you to visit your loved one alone;
  • Signs of malnutrition, such as rapid changes in weight or hair loss;
  • Poor hygiene or soiled clothing or bedding;
  • Open sores or pressure ulcers; and
  • Prescription bottles having more or fewer pills than they should, demonstrating under- or over-medication.

Each instance of abuse is different and these are only some of the many possible warning signs that a resident has suffered from nursing home abuse.

What Should You Do?

If you have witnessed warning signs and suspect your loved one has been a victim, you should report your concerns. If you do not receive a satisfactory explanation for the warning signs you observed, you should report the matter to the proper authorities. Contact Wallace Childers PLLC for a free consultation and help evaluating your case. We will work to help you hold nursing home abusers accountable for their actions.