When we place our aging loved ones in nursing homes, it is with the belief that they will receive the care and attention they need. However, a growing issue that every child needs to be aware of if their loved on is in a nursing home is elder abuse.
Elder abuse is any kind of abuse that is suffered by an elderly or aging person that is not the result of an accident. There are several different forms of this, and each can have life-changing effects on those who suffer from them, including withdrawal from friends and family, broken bones, fear, anxiety, and in some cases, death.
Physical elder abuse occurs when force is used against a patient, resulting in some type of physical pain, impairment or injury. In a nursing home setting, this type of abuse includes hitting, smacking and shoving, but it also extends to restraints, drugs, or confinement being used inappropriately.
Sexual abuse is any kind of sexual contact that is conducted without consent. This can include physical acts, but other actions such as forcing an elderly person to witness or watch sexual acts or pornographic material, or forcing him or her to undress against their will are forms as well.
Psychological and emotional abuse occurs when elderly patients are treated or spoken to in ways that cause them stress or emotional pain. This elder abuse type can be both verbal and non-verbal. Verbal forms include:
Healthcare abuse and fraud occurs when medical professionals, including doctors and other professionals, take advantage of elderly persons. Some of these behaviors can include:
Each of these types of abuse can go unnoticed for some time, especially if the elderly patient is afraid of receiving additional harm for reporting it. Still others may be unable to tell anyone what is happening due to mental health disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. While most cases of elderly abuse that are actually reported occur outside of nursing homes, there is a growing trend in these cases. This means it is up to family and friends to make sure they are visiting their loved ones frequently, and paying attention to any unexplained bruises, injuries or changes in behavior.
If you believe any of the types of elder abuse are occurring, you will need to go over your loved one’s claims to ensure there is a problem, including speaking with other patients. You should also take photos of any injuries, and make notes about any changes that you notice in your elder’s behavior or emotions. Once you have completed these steps, you should remove your loved one from the nursing home if you are afraid for his or safety. After that, you will need to make sure that you contact the proper authorities to repeat the abuse to make sure it does not keep occurring.