Many thousands of elderly persons are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect every year in the United States. Nursing home abuse is surprising because these homes are supposed to be regularly inspected by the state and are supposed to live up to certain staffing standards.
Elder abuse can come in several different forms. There is physical abuse which includes not only physical assaults such as hitting or shoving but also the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement. Emotional abuse includes intimidation through yelling, threats, humiliation, ridicule, habitual blaming, scape goating, ignoring and terrorizing the elder.
Unfortunately there are reported cases of sexual abuse which can involve physical sex acts and activities such as showing an elderly person pornographic material, forcing the person to watch sex acts or forcing the elder to undress. Neglect is another form of abuse where a patient is left alone without help for daily needs such as the bathroom or even food.
The clues to physical abuse in a nursing home are generally any signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, broken bones, sprains, or dislocations, report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should) and signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists.
Some signs of emotional abuse can include threatening, belittling or controlling caregiver behavior that you witness. Behavior from the elderly person that is similar to dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling.
Sexual abuse may entail bruises around breasts or genitals, unexplained venereal disease or genital infections and unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.
Signs of nursing home neglect may be unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, untreated physical problems, bed sores and unsanitary living conditions such as dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes and being left dirty.
This is not an exhaustive list of