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Behavioral Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse

Making the decision to move your loved on into a nursing home can be a difficult one, but it’s supposed to be for their benefit. Putting them in a location with 24 hour care should lead to the best situation possible, but that’s unfortunately not the case all of the time. Nursing home abuse is a noted issue, so it’s important to know and understand the warning signs in order to ensure your loved one is safe.

Signs of Financial Abuse

A study conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse in 2009 estimated that elder financial abuse may cost victims around $2.6 billion every year. Family members or close friends are some of the more likely groups to commit elder financial abuse, especially if they are granted power of attorney to control their finances after becoming a nursing home resident. Some instances that may indicate signs of elder financial abuse include:

  • Sudden changes to legal documents, including their will
  • Money or asset transfers without warning
  • Frequent checks written to a caregiver or financial professional
  • Unexplained withdrawals by someone other than your loved one
  • Your loved one becoming reluctant to talk about basic financial issues

Signs of Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Residents of nursing homes depend on their caregivers for countless aspects of daily care. In some cases, their caregiver may take advantage of their position of power by withholding daily care, indirect or direct threats, excluding them from group activities, mocking or ignoring the resident under their care, along with a number of other types of abuse. The American Public Health Association estimated that up to 2.5 million Americans were the victims of elder abuse in 2006, and emotional abuse was found to be the most common form of elder abuse according to data compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2010. The signs of psychological or emotional abuse may be subtle, such as small repetitive actions, or they may manifest in more pronounced ways, including:

  • Extreme personality changes
  • Constant rocking
  • Self-harm
  • Tugging or pulling at their hair
  • Mumbling, or an unwillingness to speak up
  • Sucking fingers or hands
  • Low self esteem
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Sudden mood swings

Signs of Physical Abuse and Maltreatment

Because it may be difficult to differentiate between abuse and self-neglect, physical abuse and maltreatment is at risk of going unnoticed. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), only 1 out of every 6 elder victims of physical abuse ever report the event, which can dramatically affect statistics on those kinds of events. On top of that, ALFA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) call elder physical abuse an “invisible” problem due to so many victims’ failure or inability to speak up, citing diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as issues that make reports of abuse even less likely. Some behavioral and physical signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries that appear to only be receiving treatment from the patient
  • Delays between receiving the injury and actually reporting it
  • Multicolored bruises, especially ones encircling a patient’s arms
  • Visits to different medical facilities, especially if the patient resides in a nursing home
  • Inconsistent or varied explanations for injuries
  • Tense or strained relationships between the patient and caregiver
  • Unexplained withdrawal from social interaction or activities that the patient normally enjoys

Elder abuse is a serious issue. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim, you may need to contact an attorney in order to get them the help they need. Get in touch with our attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm through our website, or call us at (312) 257-3786 for a free case evaluation.

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