Nursing Homes and Older Adult Health: Common Signs of Elder Abuse

Nursing Homes and Older Adult Health: Common Signs of Elder Abuse

by Manish Singh

When deciding to send a loved one to a nursing home, you expect them to receive a level of care that, for one reason or another, you are not able to provide. You expect the staff to be populated with friendly, compassionate people, you expect the facilities advertised to be available and accessible, and you expect your parents’ routines to be monitored and maintained at healthy levels. But the sad reality is that few facilities meet these expectations across the board, and with the likelihood of abusers to seek positions of power over others, it’s hard to trust any nursing home with taking good care of your loved ones.

Lest you think these the ramblings of a paranoiac or an exaggerator, around 1 in 6 adults over 60 experience a form of elder abuse in communal sites like nursing homes, and roughly 2 out of 3 nursing staff confess to abusing their patients in some manner, according to the World Health Organization. In that light, you might want to reconsider sending your parents to a nursing home. That’s certainly understandable, but it’s essential to acknowledge that not all nursing homes have bad apples poisoning the bunch; Nursing homes exist to provide the kinds of care that at-home services can’t provide, and most of them fulfill their purpose both kindly and effectively. The key is learning how to recognize signs of abuse so that if your parents wind up in a harmful situation, you can pull them out and seek legal recompense on their part.

If you’re interested in learning about these signs, read on. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit to cover.

Significant Changes in Habits

If you notice that your older adult is sleeping at odd hours, is refusing to eat or gorging themselves regularly, or has withdrawn from all their usual forms of social interaction, it might be time to investigate further. Unhealthy changes in eating, sleeping, or socializing habits might result from depression or intense stress, and it’s always worth looking into what might be making them unhappy, even if no abuse has been conducted. These changes are also supposed to be tracked and adjusted by the healthcare professionals at the facility, as it’s their job to ensure that your relative is living a happy, healthy lifestyle. At the least, if these changes are allowed to go on unchecked, that may be negligent behavior on their part.

Recurring Accidents and Strange Bruises

While nobody can eliminate the possibility of accidents occurring altogether, it’s a bad sign if your older adult has had multiple accidents at a facility, especially if they are described as being of the same type. Facilities are supposed to take steps to limit accidents on site, and if your older adult is hurting themselves in the same way over and over again, at best it’s negligent behavior on their part; at worst, it’s something else that they’re trying to hide. Watch for any strange bruises or injuries without a reasonable explanation, as well as any broken possessions, such as glasses. If you notice any of these symptoms, your older adult may be suffering from being abused physically (or if the bruising is in the butt or groin areas, sexually). Pull them out of that environment and take legal action immediately on their behalf.

Malnutrition or Bedsores

Good elder care facilities are supposed to, generally speaking, develop and maintain healthy lifestyle patterns for your older adult. That means making sure they eat three square meals a day, making sure they get up out of bed and get some exercise, making sure they have the proper aid they need to maintain their hygiene. If your older adult has bedsores, seems like they haven’t been eating properly, or isn’t getting help in the bathroom, they may be a victim of negligent behavior. Negligence is as potent a form of elder abuse as any other, as many nursing home attendees cannot take care of themselves alone; They need help, and the failure of healthcare staff to provide that help in a dignified, humane manner can be a crime.

Taking Care of Those You Love

It can be hard to know for sure if the place you’re sending your loved ones will treat them properly, and it’s impossible to know for sure until they’re in that environment. But this guide should better prepare you to recognize if something is off and respond appropriately. Tread with caution, do as much research as you can, and make an informed decision with the consent of your older adult… The two of you should be just fine.

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