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Nursing Home Abuse -Warning Signs of Abuse

We understand how difficult it is to see a loved one in a situation that may lead to dangerous consequences. This is especially true when it comes to loved ones living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or receiving home care. Family members can contribute to the well being of their loved ones not only by being supportive and caring, but also observant and well informed.

Knowing the facts about elder care neglect and abuse will help you overcome feelings of powerlessness and fear and allow you to make positive changes to an unfortunate situation. It is essential to recognize the symptoms that may indicate such violations are occurring. The list of violations below is designed to give you information that can help determine whether a loved one has been neglected and abused.

Elder care neglect and/or abuse is the violation of a resident's rights while they are under the care and supervision of a facility/program/caretaker. Each resident has his or her own personal rights and freedoms that need to be protected and defended. It is important to remember that a resident does not surrender their right to protection from violations like neglect and abuse simply because they have entered a nursing home or elder care facility.

The following violations are common examples of the neglect and abuse that may be suffered by those living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or receiving home care:

- Physical Abuse - Deliberate use of excess physical force upon a resident. May include hitting, pinching, slapping, shoving or kicking. Also includes unwarranted use of restraints and the controlling of a resident through physical attacks.
- Mental/Psychological/Emotional Abuse - Abusive behavior including harassing, threatening, ignoring or humiliating a resident. Also includes the emotional manipulation, coercion, seclusion or isolation of a resident.
- Sexual Abuse - Any improper or sexually oriented touching of the resident. Includes any coercion to perform sexual acts by staff or other residents.
- Verbal Abuse - Includes threatening, demeaning or insulting spoken or written comments. These comments are violations regardless of the resident's ability to comprehend.
- Malnutrition - Caused by insufficient, missed or non-nutritious meals. Can lead to severe consequences such as infections, weakened immune systems and fragility.
- Broken Bones - Often caused by falls and accidents that occur when residents are not properly supervised. Also caused by intentional abuse.
- Bed Sores (pressure sores)- sores caused by a failure to properly turn and move a bed-ridden resident. These are easily preventable by nursing home staff. Can lead to infection. Also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers.
- Dehydration - Insufficient amounts of fluids. Dehydration can cause infections and kidney failure, and result in dangerously low blood pressure (a leading cause of stroke and heart attacks).
- Falls - The elderly are particularly vulnerable to suffer serious consequences from falls. Negligent care and improper supervision can lead to situations where falls can occur, such as wandering (a resident walking without supervision) and elopement (a resident leaves a facility without permission).
- Wrongful Death - The most devastating consequence of neglect and abuse. Almost all of the above examples can lead to the premature death of a resident.

It is critical to understand that the terrible consequences of neglect and abuse are not the natural results of the aging process. These are entirely preventable incidents, and elder care facilities and programs should be held responsible for their occurrence.

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