A woman consoling her elderly mother.

Abuse, in any form, is an unacceptable and despicable act. But it can be especially tragic when it takes place among vulnerable populations like the elderly. Even worse, in these cases, the abuser is often someone you entrusted to care for and protect a loved one, making matters more complicated and leaving you unsure where to turn for help.

A nursing home is meant to be a safe space for our elderly to live and receive care. And in most cases, that’s exactly what it is. But, unfortunately, some facilities do not live up to their duty of care. And as more and more elderly individuals are admitted into nursing homes each year, cases of abuse will only continue to rise.

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms. That’s why you must learn what signs to look for if you suspect a caretaker is mistreating your loved one. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of abuse your loved one may suffer in a nursing home and how to recognize when it is taking place.

Physical Abuse

An older woman with a black eye staring out her windowPhysical abuse is often the easiest to detect since it can leave physical traces on the elder’s body. These injuries can result from violent physical acts such as punching, slapping, shoving, kicking, or using unnecessary restraints like straps or chains. Physical abuse can also include abusing medications in a way that is harmful to your elderly loved one’s health by improperly administering medications, administering the wrong medications, or by simply withholding necessary medications.

When you visit your loved one, keep an eye out for any injuries like bruises, scars, sprains, broken bones, or unexplained restraint marks on wrists and legs, as these could be signs of physical abuse. Be sure to note any reports of overdosing on medications or refusing to take medications, as these could be another warning sign. Also, be wary if a caretaker does not want
you to be alone with the elder, since this could mean they are concerned the older person may
speak out about the abuse or that you might spot evidence of it.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a type of physical abuse that involves undesired physical contact between two people, although it can also involve other acts or certain verbal communications. It’s crucial to know what to look out for when it comes to sexual abuse because injuries may not be as apparent as other types of physical abuse. 

Possible symptoms and signs of sexual abuse may include pain or discomfort around their breasts or genitals or unexpected vaginal bleeding. Another warning sign is an unexplained diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease as well as torn or stained bedding and clothing.

Emotional Abuse

An elderly man looking worried while sitting alone at a table.Emotional abuse is generally the most challenging form of abuse to detect, and, far too often, it can go unnoticed. Yet, despite the lack of physical evidence, it can be just as damaging and harmful as other types of abuse. Emotional abuse comes in both active and passive forms. For example, a caretaker may actively say things to an older person to cause fear, anguish, anxiety, or other unwarranted emotions.

The caretaker may also simply ignore an elder’s needs and requests. This type of neglect is a more passive type of emotional abuse. Still, it can have extreme negative physical repercussions if the elder is not receiving the medication or care that they require.

Some key signs to look out for that may indicate emotional abuse include:

  • A caretaker not wanting to leave you alone with your loved one
  • A caretaker behaving suspiciously, such as by threatening you or the elderly person
  • Uncharacteristic changes in the elder’s behavior or personality, such as becoming more withdrawn and not enjoying their regular activities
  • Signs of distress from your loved one like increased fear or anxiety when left alone

Financial Exploitation

Members of our senior population are especially prone to financial exploitation, particularly those with declining eyesight and mental faculties. Scams, bank account and credit card theft, and healthcare fraud are the three most common types of financial exploitation seniors experience.

Scams under the guise of charity donations commonly mislead elders into giving their money to nonexistent organizations. Caretakers are commonly responsible for account theft since many control the older person’s finances. Caretakers in a nursing home can also be responsible for healthcare fraud, whereby they charge money for unnecessary services or even for ones that are never performed. Fraud like this not only damages the senior’s finances, but it can also damage their health if they are not receiving proper care.

Signs that an elder is being financially exploited include:

  • Unpaid bills
  • Loss of money or personal property
  • Suddenly changing the power of attorney
  • Changes to a will or life insurance policies
  • Unexpected monetary withdrawals or credit card charges

If you have a loved one being cared for in a nursing home, it’s essential to have someone you trust keeping an eye on their finances to avoid fraudulent activity. If you suspect your loved one has been subjected to financial exploitation, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get an attorney on your side as soon as possible.

Let A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help

If you are concerned that someone you know or love is experiencing abuse in their nursing home, your best course of action is to contact a lawyer for legal advice. Our team of attorneys at Stewart Bell, PLLC, has been serving our elderly community in West Virginia for decades. Don’t let this abuse go on a moment longer. Contact us today to get started on your case review, and we’ll take it from there.

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For more than 30 years, the lawyers of Stewart Bell, PLLC have helped the people and businesses of West Virginia protect their interests and rights. We understand the issues that injured people and their families face after an accident and work quickly to obtain the MAXIMUM amount of compensation for every case we handle.

We have recovered MILLIONS of dollars for clients injured because of nursing home abuse, motor vehicle accidents or medical malpractice.