Elder abuse can occur when family members are the ones supporting an aging adult, and it can also be an issue at residential care facilities like nursing homes. Much like children, older adults experiencing cognitive decline and other health issues related to their age can’t always effectively advocate for themselves. They rely on family members to speak up on their behalf in some situations, including scenarios involving caregiver misconduct.
If you don’t catch the abuse at the moment that it occurs, your loved one may not speak up about it out of fear that they will face retaliation. Caregivers could become even more abusive when angry that someone spoke up about the situation or might withhold food or medication to punish someone for complicating their life.
What are some of the warning signs that could hope you protect your loved one from the abuse they have experienced?
Changes in mood or personality
If your loved one has always been happy and ready to joke around but now seems taciturn and withdrawn, those changes could be a result of ongoing abuse and mistreatment. When your loved one becomes more withdrawn, less talkative or more combative, it may be that emotional or physical abuse by others is to blame.
Missing items or financial resources
Financial abuse and manipulation are common both when people live with their families and have professionals taking care of them. Sometimes, financial abuse involves stealing items or money from an adult unable to keep track of their belonging.
Other times, financial abuse might involve threatening someone to get them to hand over money or misusing their resources, such as when a caregiver buys multiple personal items along with the groceries someone needs using their credit card or checking account.
Although sometimes people do just get hurt and don’t remember what happened, older adults with bruises or broken bones that they can’t account for may very well have experience mistreatment at the hands of another person.
Frequent injuries, issues with staff refusing to leave you alone and sometimes overt statements about abuse made by your loved one might be indicators that you need to speak up on their behalf because the professionals providing their care are not treating them the way they should.
Spotting the warning signs of nursing home abuse will help you provide more effective support for an aging loved one.