The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse May Not Be Obvious

In April of this year, a Texas-based nursing home chain was accused of failing to properly care for its residents. NBC DFW reports that a lawsuit claims several residents suffered falls, and their calls for help went unanswered. Others were left in soiled diapers overnight, according to complaints that the attorney general’s office received.

The Administration on Aging points out that elder abuse can take a number of forms, ranging from physical and sexual assault to emotional abuse and neglect. When someone such as a nursing home staff member is trusted with the care of an elderly person, it is assumed that he or she will perform those duties to the state’s guidelines. Falling short of those standards, such as failing to provide appropriate medical care and attention, may constitute abuse.

The signs of physical abuse are often noticeable because it will produce bruises, welts or scars. Unexplained broken bones or burns could also indicate that something is awry. Symptoms of other types of abuse may not be as apparent. For example, a nursing home resident who is suffering from emotional abuse may appear withdrawn, refusing to participate in his or her normal activities. In some cases, a resident could develop depression or undergo a sudden change of alertness.

Sexual abuse could present itself through bruises on the genitals or breasts. Someone who is sexually assaulted could develop post-traumatic stress disorder or have a strained relationship with his or her caregiver.

When a family suspects that a loved one has been mistreated, it is imperative to get help right away. According to the Texas Attorney General, nursing home abuse should be reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services. If immediate danger is possible, the attorney general recommends calling 911. Families can also contact Adult Protective Services, which will launch an investigation and ensure that the resident is no longer in harm’s way.

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