Did you know that one out of every ten elderly people in the U.S. face some form of abuse? 

Elder abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, or financial, is a widespread issue for seniors across the country. Sadly, millions of these cases never get reported. Seniors often keep quiet about abuse in nursing home settings for a variety of reasons, including fear, cognitive decline, and more.

To find out whether your loved one is being mistreated, you need to ask the right questions to keep them safe and hold a negligent nursing home accountable.

1. Is a nursing home employee controlling your routine?

If a staff member at a nursing home is imposing excessive restrictions on your loved one’s daily routine, this should raise some red flags. For example, an employee may deliberately withhold food, water, medications, glasses, hearing aids, or medical attention, while also isolating them from friends and family.

If a senior discloses that someone has been limiting or controlling their daily routines, it’s important to identify the employee responsible as soon as possible.

2. Has an employee spoken to you in a threatening way?

Threats and verbal abuse can significantly impact an elderly person’s emotional wellbeing. Verbal harassment can cause fear, stress, and social isolation in seniors, potentially leading to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

An abuser may threaten seniors to prevent them from contacting loved ones, nursing home staff, or law enforcement. This bullying can hinder seniors from receiving the help they need, especially when managing conditions like dementia.

3. Have you felt pressured to give an employee money?

Financial abuse against vulnerable older adults has significantly risen in the past decade, with one in twenty seniors experiencing some form of financial mistreatment. A concerning issue is that only one out of every 44 cases of financial abuse actually gets reported.

When a nursing home staff member pressures an elderly person to hand over money or sign unknown documents, a senior’s savings can be drained. This kind of exploitation can leave them struggling to cover basic living costs.

If an elderly person suffers from cognitive impairment or needs help with everyday tasks, they’re more likely to be taken advantage of financially. Sometimes, family members might not even realize what’s happening. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your loved one’s finances. Check to make sure money isn’t disappearing from their accounts, there aren’t any strange financial transactions, or any unusual changes to their will or other important documents.

4. Has anyone touched you without your permission or hit you?

If you suspect that someone is deliberately harming your loved one, watch out for these signs:

  • Bedsores: Bedsores occur when a nursing home resident stays in one position for too long, leading to skin damage and infections. These sores can be life-threatening if untreated. 2% to 28% of nursing home residents suffer from bedsores.
  • Falls: Slip and fall incidents are the leading cause of senior injury-related deaths. Frequent falls may suggest underlying environmental hazards in a nursing home, or a lack of supervision from nursing home staff.
  • Broken bones: Older people have weaker bones, making them more likely to suffer fractures. Broken hips result in over 300,000 senior hospitalizations annually.
  • Concussions: Concussions are injuries caused by brain trauma and can result in long-term health problems.
  • Spinal injuries: Spinal cord damage interrupts brain-body signals, resulting in breathing difficulties, loss of bowel control, and paralysis. The severity of spinal injuries depends on the spinal location.
  • Infections: Long-term care facilities experience millions of infections each year, such as influenza and pneumonia. Failing to prevent and treat infections can result in additional health issues or even death.
  • Dehydration or Malnutrition: Look for signs of malnourishment, such as hair or teeth loss, chronic health problems, weakened muscles, and depression. Keep tabs on whether your loved one suddenly loses weight.
  • Breathing tube issues: Blockage of breathing tubes can lead to brain damage and death.
  • Sexual Abuse: Be aware of any trauma to the genital area or contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Severe burn injuries: Smoking, excessively hot water, scalding food or drinks, or fires within nursing homes can cause serious burn injuries for elders.
  • Overly Medicated: Make sure your loved one isn’t sedated or given medication without a proper explanation.
  • Poor Recordkeeping: Negligence, or improper medical treatment, can lead to incorrect prescriptions or dosages.

Seniors might not admit that they’re being abused because they’re scared of the nursing home staff retaliating against them. That’s why you need to look out for other signs of abuse too, such as your loved one withdrawing from social interaction or any other sudden changes in behavior

If you notice any signs of abuse, make sure to talk to a doctor and keep track of your loved one’s health. Have a plan to check in with them regularly, especially if you live far away. Also, keep an eye on nursing home caregivers — if they seem frustrated or irritated, it could be a sign of burnout, which could put your loved one in danger.

What should you do if you suspect nursing home abuse?

If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home facility, we strongly recommend acting fast to ensure your loved one’s safety. To hold those responsible accountable, here’s what steps you need to take: 

  • Remove your loved one from the harmful environment. Find alternative care if possible.
  • Take them to a hospital for medical treatment right away.
  • Contact local authorities like the police or Adult Protective Services (APS) if you think any laws have been broken and report the abuse.
  • Get in touch with a qualified personal injury attorney to start an investigation. With legal help, seniors can receive compensation for their medical treatments and other losses they suffered. An Austin personal injury attorney can help you recover the full value of your loved one’s injuries and mental distress. Protect your loved one from abuse and neglect in a nursing home by consulting a qualified attorney today.