What are some of the causes of elder abuse in nursing homes?
There are many risk factors in nursing homes that may cause elder abuse. While these factors are never an excuse, it may be a reason that can help to explain the abuse and in turn help to prevent it. These risk factors include
- The number of patients being too high for the number of caregivers in a facility.
- High number of patients with dementia. These patients are high needs and many can be combative.
- Poorly trained staff
- Staff burnout
- High turnover rates. Having a facility that can’t keep staff for a long period of time can cause many issues including neglect and
- Combative, verbally or physically abusive residents. Combative patients will hit, kick, tear or break things, and generally make it very difficult to care for them. This may cause some caregivers to act irrationally as well and retaliate against the patient.
Signs of nursing home elder abuse
There are many forms of elder abuse to be aware of and each have signs to look for if you suspect something is amiss. These are emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse. These signs are:
- Changes in behavior or personality. As a loved one, you tend to know best what behavior is normal and if there is sudden depression, crying, rocking, murmuring to themselves, anxiety, that wasn’t present before, you should probably investigate the cause.
- Malnutrition and/or dehydration. This may be apparent if there are unusual weight fluctuations or sudden weight loss. Some abusers will withhold food or drink as a form of abuse or this may be the result of neglect.
- Bed sores or foul odors. This is unfortunately a clear sign of neglect.
- Overmedication or medication being withheld. The elderly are dependent on their medications and some abusers will withhold it as a way to control their victims. This is another reason a victim may fear saying anything.
- Unexplained injuries. We know that the elderly can be quite fragile but be aware of any bruises, scars, cuts, scrapes, broken bones, sprains, or similar injuries that cannot be explained or are very vaguely explained by staff.
- Broken eyeglasses, unexplained STDs, vaginal or anal bleeding. This may indicate sexual abuse. Whether by staff or other residents an investigation is in order.
- Missing personal belonging or sudden withdrawals from bank accounts.
Taking action | Oklahoma City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
If you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home, you should act immediately. There are adult protective agencies and help lines created just for this problem, and you may be the only person to advocate for an abused or neglected elderly patient. Contact a Helpline at: 1-800-522-3511 or Adult Protective services 405-521-3660.
The attorneys at Brown and Gould, PLLC, are here to assist you if you suspect your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Go online to contact us, or call 405-235-4500.