Making the decision to place a relative or close friend in a nursing is not easy, but when it comes time to transfer care of someone over to another person or organization, you want to be sure that the person will be well cared for. While the vast majority of nursing homes and employees are well trained and reliable, elder abuse does occur. Whether the abuse is being done by an employee, another resident or even a family member or friend who is visiting, learning to recognize the signs of elder abuse will help you catch and put a stop to it quickly.
Note: if you believe a person is being subject to elder abuse in a nursing home, contact adult protection services and the nursing home administrator. If you believe a person’s life may be in imminent danger, call 911 right away. It’s also best to contact your attorney and potentially alerting the court if you have an existing guardianship or conservatorship.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Signs of physical elder abuse are generally visible. They can include frequent and often unexplainable:
- Bruises and marks
- Cuts and burns
- Sprains, broken bones and other musculoskeletal issues
- Repeated injuries to the same area of the body
Oftentimes when an elder is being physically abused, they will not want to see or consult a doctor about their injuries.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
In most states and nursing homes, it is legal for seniors to engage in sexual activities, but both parties must be of sound mind and body and give consent to participating in them. The signs of sexual abuse include:
- Bruises, scratches or wounds, especially around the genitals
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Torn clothing
Signs of Emotional Abuse
A person does not have to be physically harmed in order for abuse to be taking place. The signs of mental or emotional abuse include:
- Depression or sudden changes in behavior
- Trouble sleeping at night or intense nightmares
- Acting withdrawn or consistently frightened
- Panic attacks or PTSD
- Extreme agitation or mood swings
- Fear of people or being left alone
Signs of Financial Abuse
There are times when a malicious person will target an older adult’s money. The signs of financial abuse include:
- Sudden new “friends” that enter a person’s life
- Withdrawals from financial accounts
- Drastic changes in wills or estates
- Missed bill payments
- Missing financial statements or other legal documents
It’s important to act quickly if you notice one or more of these common signs of elder abuse. The best way to mitigate their effects is to catch them early. When it comes to financial abuse, added protections can be appointing someone to be a conservator or guardian to handle the financial and/or day-to-day decisions regarding an older adult’s life/finances.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.