There are currently more than 16,000 nursing homes in the Unites States housing approximately two million elders over the age of 65. With more and more of our older population being admitted into nursing homes, the instances of abuse will unfortunately only increase. Abuse takes many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial exploitation. If you are concerned that an elder you know or love is being abused, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer for legal advice.
Physical abuse is usually the easiest form of abuse to detect since it can leave physical traces on the elder’s body. These injuries can result from physical acts of violence 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 the elder’s health, by administering prohibited medications or by simply withholding necessary medications.
Keep an eye out for any injuries like bruises, scars, sprains, broken bones or restraint marks on wrists and legs that can’t be properly explained, as these could be signs of physical abuse. Take note of 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 involves undesired physical contact between two people, although it can also involve other acts or certain verbal communications. Possible symptoms of sexual abuse include pain or discomfort around their breasts or genitals, or unexpected vaginal bleeding. Another warning sign is an improperly explained diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease. Clothing or bedding that has been torn or stained is another possible clue.
Emotional abuse is generally the most difficult form of abuse to detect and goes unnoticed far too often. Despite the lack of physical evidence, however, 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 them fear, anguish, anxiety or any other unwarranted emotions.
The caretaker may also simply ignore an elder’s needs and requests. This more passive emotional abuse can have extreme negative physical repercussions if the elder is not receiving the medication or care that they require.
Some signs that may indicate emotional abuse include a caretaker not wanting you to be alone with the elder or the caretaker behaving suspiciously, such as by threatening you or the elder person. Note any uncharacteristic changes in the elder’s behavior, such as becoming more withdrawn and not enjoying their regular activities.
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 of them have control over the older person’s finances. Caretakers are also responsible for healthcare fraud, whereby they charge money for unnecessary services or even for ones that are never performed. 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.
Let A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help
The trustworthy members of Stewart Bell, PLLC have been serving the West Virginia community for decades. If you are suspicious that a senior citizen you know is being abused, don’t let it go on a moment longer. Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately to receive proper legal council.