Older adults sometimes get hurt in the very facilities where loved ones move them to keep them safe. Nursing homes with inadequate staff might neglect a patient’s needs, leading to them falling and getting hurt.
Poor facility maintenance habits could lead to infestations of lice, bed bugs or scabies that make your loved one miserable and put them at risk of secondary infections. Neglect is a constant concern in nursing homes, but the possibility is also there for residents to suffer physical abuse.
Older adults may lack either the physical strength or the mental acuity to protect themselves from the aggression of those who should protect and help them. What are some of the warning signs that your loved one has endured abuse or physical assault from the people paid to provide their care?
Repeated, unexplained injuries
Sometimes older adults, much like children, get hurt and don’t know how. They may have a bruise and not recall striking that part of their body.
When it happens once or twice, you could potentially dismiss the matter as a non-issue. However, when your loved one repeatedly presents unexplained injuries, especially if they look like they come from restraints or human hands, staff at the facility could be the source of those injuries.
A sudden change in personality
Someone experiencing abuse in a residential care facility might completely withdraw from visitors and refuse to engage anymore because they feel like their loved ones have abandoned them or failed to protect them. They might assume that no one will believe them even if they speak up.
On the other hand, they might seem unhinged, ranting and raving about abuse that you think seems exaggerated or unlikely. Anytime your loved one’s behavior changes significantly, especially if they accuse staff at the nursing home of mistreating them, you should treat their concerns like a serious issue.
Difficulty seeing them alone
It’s common for nursing homes to not have enough staff on hand to meet the needs of individuals, so workers constantly hovering when you come for a visit could be a sign that they don’t want to leave you alone with your loved one because they don’t want you to find out what has happened recently. If you cannot meet with your loved one privately to talk about their experience, that could be a sign that the workers don’t want you to know what your loved one has to tell you.
Recognizing the early warning signs of physical abuse in a nursing home could help you intervene and protect your loved one.