Three common types of elderly abuse and their symptoms

Recent studies show that elderly abuse is common in United States nursing homes, including neglect, physical abuse and psychological abuse.

The decision to place a family member under the care of an Atlanta nursing home is a difficult one. Families are often comforted with the assurance that their loved one will be well cared for by nursing home staff. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that abuse is a pervasive problem in nursing homes throughout Georgia and the nation.

ABC News reported results of a nursing home study by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee. The two-year study revealed that nearly 30 percent of United States nursing homes received citations for elder abuse. Neglect, physical abuse and psychological abuse are three common types of elderly mistreatment that occur in nursing homes.

Neglect

According to Reuters, a nationwide survey revealed that approximately 50 percent of interviewed nursing home staff admitted to abusing elderly patients. Neglect was the most common form of abuse mentioned by those interviewed.

The Georgia Department of Human Services describes elderly neglect as harming or threatening an elderly individual by withholding essential services. These services may include adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care. The Georgia DHS reports that common indicators of elderly neglect include:

  • Insufficient clothing for conditions
  • Bed sores
  • Unexplainable weight loss or other signs of malnourishment
  • Untreated injuries and overall health deterioration
  • Tooth decay and untreated dental problems
  • Filthy living conditions such as fecal waste in living area, soiled bedding and rodents

Additionally, patients who are not provided glasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers or other items may also be considered victims of neglect.

Physical abuse

The aforementioned study reported by ABC News revealed shocking details regarding grotesque physical abuse occurring in United States nursing homes. Instances of choking, punching and broken bones were documented in the revealing study.

Signs of physical abuse are usually fairly easy to detect and include broken bones, scratches and bruises. Victims of physical abuse may develop intense fear of their surroundings and may become withdrawn. Some forms of physical abuse may be more difficult to detect, including excessive use of restraints, overmedicating and detaining.

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse is one of the most difficult types of abuse to detect as there are typically no physical marks or outward indications. The National Center on Elder Abuse notes that victims often exhibit subtle signs. These signs may include becoming withdrawn, agitated or exhibiting unusual dementia-like behaviors.

This type of abuse involves harassment, insults, intimidation, isolation and ignoring the presence of the patient. It is not uncommon for psychological abuse to occur in conjunction with physical abuse and neglect. Victims often experience severe physical, emotional and psychological suffering that can take months or years to heal.

Taking Action

Elderly abuse does not only harm direct victims, but it can also cause family trauma and heartache. There may also be a significant cost involved with treating injuries caused by nursing home staff. Families of elderly nursing home occupants here in Georgia should always be vigilant in looking for signs of abuse. If abuse is suspected, it is a good idea to meet with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling elder abuse cases.

Keywords: elder, abuse, neglect, injury