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Know the basics of nursing home abuse and neglect

Families want the best for their elderly relatives and many rely on nursing home facilities to take care of their parents as they get older. While no family wants to think about someone taking advantage of their elderly parent, unfortunately many nursing home residents end up abused and neglected every year.

Nursing home abuse includes physical, emotional and financial abuse as well as neglect by those responsible for taking care of elderly residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect can be very traumatic and dangerous for nursing home residents. That is why families with loved ones in nursing homes need to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect to prevent their family member from being harmed.

What are the common types of abuse family members should be aware of? Physical abuse results in physical injury, pain or impairment and many elderly people try to cover up the physical abuse and may become less socially active after being physically abused.

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling or threatening a nursing home resident as well as blaming a resident for his or her inability to take care of him or herself. Nonverbal abuse includes neglecting the elderly resident or isolating one resident from the rest of the nursing home residents to intimidate or harm the resident.

While nursing home abuse may seem like the more harmful of the two, nursing home neglect can be very dangerous for residents as well. Neglect is reported in more than half of all cases of nursing home abuse. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional by nursing home staff members.

Common signs of neglect include staff members ignoring or denying that a resident needs as much care as they are requesting, not looking after a resident as often as a caretaker should or neglecting to give a resident his or her medication. Neglect will often result in residents being malnourished or dehydrated, having bedsores, being unbathed or having residents live in unsafe quarters at the nursing home facility.

There are usually some signs of nursing home abuse and neglect so it is important for family members to be aware of their loved one's living conditions and physical and mental appearance to make sure they have not been abused or neglected. Family members who suspect abuse or neglect should contact authorities to report their suspicions as well as learn about what rights nursing home residents have to pursue legal action against nursing home facilities guilty of these appalling actions.

Source: Help Guide, "Elder Abuse and Neglect," March 19, 2013

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