Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Unfortunately, there are many different kinds of elder neglect and abuse. When you have a loved one who needs care, the last thing you want to worry about is whether this family member is being hurt or neglected in a nursing home, assisted living, or other care facility. Sadly, this issue has become of increasing importance across Michigan and throughout the county. Personal injuries, malpractice, and inadequate care and supervision are increasing in magnitude as the elderly population increases.
Physical neglect refers to the failure to provide for an older individual’s mental and physical needs, while physical abuse is the battery or assault of an older or vulnerable adult. There are several signs you can watch for if you are concerned about elder abuse or neglect.
Falls and fractures are some of the most common injuries associated with an injured senior. Fractures should rarely happen when there are professionals on duty. Bed sores, too, are a telltale some that a person is not being given the proper level of attention. Bed sores are almost always preventable with proper care, nutrition and hydration.
Likewise, with proper care and attention at a nursing home or other facility, there should be no reason that repeated infections are allowed to happen. If your loved one is suffering from constant infections, you may need to speak to a geriatric health professional, elder law attorney, or explore alternate care options. Medication errors and inadequate staffing can also signal to you that you should search for a new location for your loved one.
There are a few other signs that can indicate that your loved one is being neglected, like wandering outside of a secure area, sudden loss of weight, or dehydration. Clear schedules should be implemented for providing care and assistance with activities of daily living, like nutrition, hydration, cleaning and toileting, when your loved one needs help in those areas. In a suitable and well-managed care facility, there should be adequate assistance available for your elderly loved one in these areas.
Sadly, there may also be signs of sexual or physical abuse, and your loved one may have a difficult time discussing these. If your loved one is concerned about his or her safety or believes that speaking about the abuse could only lead to more harm, you may have a difficult time getting details out of him or her. You are the best judge of your loved one! If you notice your family member tensing up or being unwilling to speak around care staff, you should investigate further what is happening. Always document any bruises or other “accidents” that are impacting your loved one in a care facility.
Your loved one has a right to dignity and respect alongside adequate daily living and medical care. It can be devastating to learn that your loved one has been hurt or simply ignored when you thought you were doing the right thing by linking them to a nursing home or other care facility. If you sense that your loved one is suffering, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact an elder abuse or personal injury attorney to talk through the options and find a way to make your loved one safe and comfortable again. No one’s golden years should be marred by neglect, poor care, or even worse, physical or sexual abuse.
Don L. Rosenberg, Attorney and Counselor
The Center for Elder Law