Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Nursing Home Abuse
February 24, 2017
When your family member needs round-the-clock nursing care, placing them in a nursing home is often the best decision—even though it can be a difficult one. Although you looked high and low to find the right place for your loved one, you have heard horror stories about nursing home abuse and are concerned about whether he or she is being cared for properly—especially if you don’t live close enough to pop in regularly. Though we don’t have exact statistics on the prevalence of abuse and neglect among nursing home residents, some studies have indicated that it is as high as 44 percent. The following effects of nursing home abuse are often a red flag that your family member may be abused or neglected at his or her care facility.
Physical Impact of Abuse
The physical signs of nursing home abuse are often the easiest to spot. These can include frequent bruising or black eyes; cuts, wounds, or bedsores; broken bones or dislocation injuries; and chronic pain or ongoing soreness. While an occasional injury is not necessarily a sign of abuse among the elderly, a pattern of bumps, bruises, and cuts is cause for concern. Absent the presence of visible injuries, there are other physical signs of potential abuse, such as unexplained weight loss, dehydration or malnutrition, poor health outcomes, trouble sleeping, and frequent illness or infection. These physical effects often last long after the injuries heal, with a 300 percent higher mortality rate among seniors who have faced abuse compared with those who have not.
Psychological Impact of Abuse
An abrupt change in personality is often a sign that your elderly loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Warning signs include depression and withdrawal from activities he or she previously enjoyed; anxiety and fear, particularly around strangers or staff members; disordered eating patterns; medication refusal; personality changes; and agitation. Like the physical effects of abuse, the psychological impact on seniors is pervasive and long lasting. Nursing home residents are at high risk for depression, and abuse increases the likelihood of severe depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults who are abused may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, a qualified attorney who specializes in elder law can help you weigh your options and find a safe solution for your beloved family member.