Nursing homes are supposed to protect our loved ones, care for their medical needs, and ensure that they enjoy enriching activities that keep their minds active. Unfortunately, many nursing homes in Alabama and throughout the country do not protect their residents. According to the Department of Justice, only one out of every 20 cases of physical abuse of nursing home residents is ever reported. Despite elderly residents being particularly vulnerable to nursing home abuse and neglect, it continues to happen far too frequently.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, understanding the warning signs can help you spot emotional, physical, sexual, and financial neglect and abuse. Doing so can help you protect your loved one and potentially other patients who have been injured. Multiple types of abuse can occur — physical, emotional, sexual, and financial. Neglect can also cause injuries. We will discuss some of the most common warning signs in each category.
Physical Abuse Warning Signs
Nursing home residents have an increased risk of complications if they become injured due to physical abuse. Physical abuse can be life-threatening for this vulnerable population. If your loved one tells you that they are being held against their will, hit, or heavily medicated, take these allegations seriously. Look out for the following warning signs:
- Bone fractures
- Scars, cuts, bruises, bedsores, blood
- Newly missing teeth
- Pressure marks
- Dislocation and sprains
If you discover any of these warning signs and bring them up to the nursing home, they may try to justify the injuries. They may say that your loved one fell out of bed or caused the injuries themselves. It is essential that you keep a record of all the warning signs you see and discuss the issues with the nursing home.
Write down when you talked to the supervisors and what they stated they would do. If you do not feel they are adequately responding to the situation or your loved one has already been injured, we recommend reaching out to an attorney. Additionally, if you notice that your loved one’s behavior has become different, such as them becoming more frightened or withdrawn, this could be a sign that they are being physically abused.
Emotional Abuse Warning Signs
Emotional abuse may not leave physical scars behind, but it can seriously impact your loved one’s health, mental state, and quality of life. It is challenging to detect emotional abuse, and many abusers are good at hiding their abuse. If you have noticed any of the following behaviors, they could be a warning sign for emotional abuse:
- A sudden shift in mood
- Withdrawals from family and social activities
- Increased anxiety or fear
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Appearing depressed
- Reluctance to reach out to family members
- Lashing out or acting aggressively
- Sucking, hugging, rocking, or other forms of self-soothing
Sexual Abuse Warning Signs
Learning that your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home can be devastating. It is important to know the risk factors and warning signs so you can protect your loved one and other nursing home residents. Signs of sexual abuse of nursing home residents can include the following:
- Bruises near the thighs, chest, or wrists
- Genital bleeding or bruising
- Spontaneous STDs
- New-onset anxiety or depression
- Clothing with unexplained rips or stains
- Becoming nervous or withdrawn around certain patients or staff members
Financial Abuse Warning SIgns
Abusers can seek out elderly individuals to exploit financially. They may try to profit from your loved one by convincing them to give them money and engaging in forgery, credit card fraud, or stealing their valuables. If you observe any of the following warning signs, financial neglect may be happening:
- Past-due notices
- Notices that new lines of credit have been opened
- Suspicious withdrawals from your loved one’s bank accounts
- Missing valuables or property
- A sudden and unexplained increase in debtor or credit card spending
- Selling of property without making loved ones aware
Discuss Your Nursing Home Abuse Case With an Alabama Attorney
When nursing home residents suffer injuries due to neglect or abuse, you may be able to pursue compensation through an elder abuse lawsuit. Pursuing a lawsuit allows you to hold the nursing home financially accountable for their negligence or intentional abuse. If you suspect or know with certainty that your loved one has been abused or neglected, it is essential that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the compassionate and skilled Alabama attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis to schedule your free initial consultation.