It is very easy to take advantage of people whose ability to care for themselves is compromised to some degree, which is why it is so important to be conscious of what to look for when nursing home abuse is suspected. Nursing home abuse is much more common than one would think, largely because it goes unreported in a large number of instances. An elderly resident may lack the physical ability or opportunity to bring their situation to the attention of authorities. Out of fear that formally addressing the matter will worsen the abuse they receive, a person will often opt against doing so. The victim may be psychologically conditioned to believe that they deserve the abuse. Most of the time, it is not unusual that a person may be too ashamed to discuss the trauma they are experiencing.
Signs of emotional abuse are the easiest to overlook. They may be wrongly dismissed as an elderly patient simply “getting old” or as a symptom of a pre existing medical condition. For example, the emergence of distant or unusually withdrawn behavior is often the first sign to manifest after a traumatic experience. Moments of severe confusion are symptomatic of aging, as well as Post-Traumatic Stress.
The indicators of emotional abuse do not always mean that physical abuse is taking place, but physical abuse will rarely present itself without emotional ramifications. Remaining alert for signs of physical or sexual abuse like unexplained accidents, broken bones, cuts, lacerations, and bruises – particularly around the breasts, upper abdomen, or inner thighs (as they are indicators of sexual abuse and should be addressed as quickly as possible) is necessary to protect and ensure the safety of the residents of an elder care facility.
If you suspect or have witnessed nursing home abuse, respond by taking the following steps: if warranted under the circumstances, get the victim the appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. Then, collect information about those responsible for the abuse (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc), and report the situation to the nursing home administrator. Physical and sexual abuse should be brought to the attention of both the department of your state responsible for the regulation of elder care facilities as well as the local police. Elder abuse is illegal and unacceptable. It is a criminal offense with criminal penalties. In such extreme cases, you should find a qualified attorney who specializes in this area.