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Preventing Elder Abuse: Know the Signs

Elder abuse perpetrated in nursing homes and assisted care facilities is a nightmare for both the victim and their family. Cases of this variety of medical malpractice and neglect can involve a host of different emotions on the part of family members responsible for the victim, ranging from guilt and feelings of latent culpability to righteous anger and heartache. Those who suspect that their loved ones have been the victims of nursing home neglect should remove their elderly relative from a potentially dangerous situation as soon as possible, and immediately call a lawyer specializing in elder abuse law to ensure that the situation can be quickly shut down before others are injured, as well as to begin the process of arranging restitutions.

Nursing home neglect and abuse can be hard to detect, in large part because many victims are incapable of expressing or explaining what has been happening to them. We’ve compiled a list of a few of the most common signs of nursing home abuse, as reported by law enforcement officials and other watchdogs; if you or someone you know notice these signs in a medical facility, call the law offices of Lance Brown & Associates at the earliest possible opportunity.

Injury, Weight Loss or Change in Behavior

Physical and mental abuse of an elder can be easily explained away as symptoms of aging: hair loss, contusions, abrasions, open wounds, bruising, poor hygiene and weight loss can all be chalked up the loss of coordination, confusion and general poor health that accompany old age. If these signs are frequently observed, however, or if you in any way suspect that they are not otherwise consistent with the health and capacities of the victim, they may be a sign of deliberate abuse. Neglect can also take non-physical forms that lead to physical symptoms or mental health deterioration; these types of neglect can include emotional abuse (through threats, humiliation and fear), withholding of food, water, medication or hygienic processes, or even neglect in the most literal sense, where residents are ignored or isolated from social situations against their will.

Suspicious Staff Behavior

Although residents in poor mental and physical health can prove challenging for the nurses and doctors who care for them, elders residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities should always receive the respect and care that a patient of any mental capacity would expect. Should you witness any behavior that strikes you as improprietous, be sure to report and/or record the incident.

Most perpetrators of elder abuse, however, are careful to conceal their tracks and unlikely to betray their compulsions in front of authority figures or family members. It is thus important to note other, less immediately evident red flags that indicate suspicious behavior; these can include delaying your access to visit a resident during normal operating hours, staff refusing to leave the room during a visit (which could be to prevent the elderly victim from feeling able to tell a family member about the abuse inflicted on them), or signs of incautious care, such as fall hazards, less-than-ideal conditions of sanitation, and generally unsafe conditions that medical professionals should know to avoid.

If you have even the slightest suspicion that someone you know is suffering from abuse or neglect at the hands of medical professionals, don’t hesitate to act – your actions could potentially save the life of not just your loved one, but the others who would be affected by this type of heinous crime.

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