The holiday season is upon us, which is often filled with gatherings that involve the entire family. Some of your aging family members may be in nursing homes or have at-home caregivers and you depend on the medical and aid professionals to treat them with the love and respect that you do. Sadly, that’s not always the case. This is the time of year you see your family more often, which makes it the best time to look for signs of elder abuse or nursing home abuse and neglect.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Unfortunately, some elders are subjected to one or more forms of abuse or neglect which can involve verbal, sexual, emotional, physical, financial, abandonment and caregiver neglect. Your loved one may be particularly at risk of harm and violence if he or she has cognitive impairment such as dementia. The most visible signs of abuse and neglect typically involve unexplained injuries, malnutrition, de-hydration and bed sores but there are other ways to find out if your family member is being hurt.
- Your loved one may act depressed, confused or withdrawn if they are being harmed or intentionally isolated from family, friends or other care facility residents. They may show sudden changes in personality and behavior such as a lack of interest in socializing and unreasonable fear.
- They may appear with bruises, burns, scars, broken bones or other types of injuries that go unexplained. Your family member may seem unaware of their injuries and refuse care. Signs of neglect are quite visible as well. He or she might have broken eyeglasses or frames, bed sores, dehydration or signs of being restrained such as marks on their wrists as well as untreated medical problems.
- Elders save money their entire lives to make sure they have the funds required to retire and still live a full life to be well taken care of. When a serious condition or injury develops such as dementia or a fall, your loved one becomes vulnerable in many ways which includes their finances. Signs of financial elder abuse include sudden changes in their banking including unexplained banking patterns.
- You might be able to spot elder abuse or neglect by the actions of the nursing home staff or caregiver. They may stay in the room or hover just outside during your visit because they are worried about what your family member might say. When visiting your loved one, you need to be aware of the care they are receiving at all times and never dismiss any type of message that your loved one may be trying to tell you.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse?
Start by doing extensive research into the nursing home and visit more often. If theft is involved, you need to call the police. Otherwise, report it to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. If it is an urgent complaint, you can report it immediately by calling the Long-term Home Care ACTION Line: toll-free 1-866-434-0144.
If you suspect your loved one is being harmed, have a conversation with your family member about your concerns for their safety and what is happening when you are not around. You may not want to believe an attendant, aid or other professional could be capable of abusing your loved one or you may even think that your loved one would be angry at you for speaking up. But the earlier you intervene in a situation of elder abuse, the better the outcome will be for everyone involved. Elder abuse and nursing home negligence are things that no family wants to think about but should be taken seriously.
The holidays are typically spent with family and you are probably going to visit or see your loved one more than you do the rest of the year. Remember to look out for the signs of abuse while you celebrate the holidays and take action if you have good reason to suspect neglect. Our Personal Injury Lawyers at Iacobelli Law Firm are familiar with the laws protecting nursing home residents and if you suspect your loved one is being mistreated and/or injured at their nursing home facility, we offer a FREE Consultation so please feel free to call us at 1-866-234-6093. We are honored to serve our clients and our community.
Andrew Iacobelli is an experienced personal injury lawyer who established Iacobelli Law Firm with offices located in Ontario, Canada as well as offices in Florida, U.S.A. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of personal injury victims in claims involving serious injuries and wrongful death.