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How to spot signs of nursing home neglect and abuse

Many of us have parents and loved ones in nursing homes, and while most people in long term care facilities in the U.S. are treated well, elder abuse and neglect is much more common than any of us would like to believe.

It is difficult to know exactly how common nursing home abuse and neglect is, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) says, because signs are often missed by professionals and families.

Making matters worse, nursing home residents, themselves, often do not report abuse because they are either afraid of retaliation or they lack the mental or physical ability to do so, the NCEA says.

That means it is up to family members and friends to learn how to spot signs of nursing home neglect and abuse in order to make sure that their loved ones are safe.

Top signs of nursing home abuse and neglect

Watch carefully for all of the following signs, which could signal nursing home abuse or neglect:

  • Your loved one has broken bones or fractures.
  • Your loved one has cuts, bruises or welts.
  • Your loved one has bed sores.
  • Your loved one has infections frequently.
  • Your loved one is showing signs of dehydration.
  • Your loved one is moody, having outbursts, withdrawn or is refusing to speak.
  • Your loved one is refusing to eat or take medications.
  • Your loved one has lost weight for no apparent reason.
  • Your loved one looks disheveled, unclean or in poor physical health.
  • Your loved one's personality has changed.
  • Caregivers do not want your loved one to be alone with you or others.

Of course, these signs don't always mean that nursing home abuse or neglect is happening, but they should be taken as red flags, and further investigating should take place to ensure your loved one's safety.

What happens if my loved one is being abused or neglected?

If you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, then the first phone call that you should make is to the local authorities, who can investigate and make sure that your loved one, and others, are safe.

The next call you should make is to a lawyer who can hold the nursing home accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, there are too many nursing homes that prioritize making a profit over the lives of their residents, and they should not get away with it.

The nursing home has been paid a large sum of money to provide quality care to your loved one, and negligent or criminal treatment will not be tolerated. It may be possible to make them pay for the harm that they have caused.

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