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Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If someone you love is being abused in a nursing home or a similar residential care facility, it may be up to you to recognize the signs of mistreatment and do something to make it stop. Elderly or infirm individuals who are being abused or neglected may be too sick, weak or afraid to speak up or otherwise defend themselves.

Many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are uncovered only when a family member recognizes what’s going on. You can act if you recognize the warning signs of nursing home abuse, and the attorneys of Hardison & Cochran can stand with you to protect your loved one’s rights.

Nursing home abuse victim showing a sign of abuse by withdrawing from activities.

If you suspect that someone you care about is being abused in a North Carolina nursing home, you can report it to authorities and you can call Hardison & Cochran. We will assist and advise you, and there is no charge for the initial consultation. If your loved one has been harmed, we will help you obtain compensation for their losses.

Don’t delay if you need help. Contact us now.

Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Groups like The National Center on Elder Abuse and the U.S. Administration on Aging have studied elder abuse, including abuse and neglect in nursing homes, retirement homes and similar long-term care facilities. They have identified factors that indicate a resident may be the victim of abuse or neglect.

Abuse is intentional infliction of physical, sexual, emotional / psychological or financial harm (financial exploitation). Neglect is the withholding of food, shelter, health care or protection that a vulnerable elderly person depends on a caregiver to provide.

Warnings signs of nursing home neglect and abuse you should act upon if you see them include:

Behavioral Signs of Neglect / Abuse

  • The resident’s complaint that he or she is being abused or neglected. Do not ignore a complaint. Ask about specifics and see whether evidence bears out the complaint.
  • Sudden change in alertness or behavior, including signs of fear, withdrawing from activities previously enjoyed or becoming uncommunicative.
  • Increased agitation around certain nursing home staff members or residents.
  • Staff members becoming reluctant to let you see a resident or be alone with a resident.

Signs of Neglect

Failure to fulfill any part of the nursing home’s contractual obligations or legal duties to residents is neglect. Signs of neglect include:

  • Malnutrition. Malnutrition is caused by lack of food or lack or the ability to absorb the nutrients in food. It can lead to physical weakness, which increases the risk of falling, and developing infections or other medical problems.
  • Dehydration. Dehydration may be caused by illness with high fever or diarrhea, by certain medications, such as diuretics, or from deficient intake of liquids. It may also be a symptom of malnutrition.
  • Bedsores.Bedsores (pressure ulcers, pressure sores) are open wounds caused by lying or sitting still for long periods of time, such as in bed or a wheelchair. They should not occur in a patient who enters a nursing home without bedsores.
  • Infections. Open wounds (such as bedsores) that are left untreated can become infected, but many infections seen in nursing homes are contracted due to neglecting cleanliness and sanitation standards. Untreated infections can progress rapidly and lead to shock, pulmonary arrest and death.
  • Medication Errors. Administering incorrect doses of medication, medication at incorrect intervals or the incorrect medication can lead to a variety of serious medical problems.
  • Declines in personal hygiene. Soiled bedding, fecal / urine smell, inadequate clothing are indicators that a resident is not receiving sufficient care and may be indicators of neglect.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Use of physical force that causes bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment is physical abuse.

  • Unexplained or inadequately explained injuries, such as black eyes, bruises, cuts, welts, burns, sprains, dislocations, broken bones (including skull fractures), and internal injuries / bleeding.
  • Physical signs of being restrained, such as rope marks / burns, presence in room of restraints, such as belts, straps, rope, etc.
  • Broken eyeglasses / frames, hearing aids, etc.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, or sexual contact with someone unable to consent, including nude photography, is sexual abuse.

  • Bruising around the genital area, anus or breasts.
  • Venereal disease or genital infections.
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding.
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear or bed clothes.

Signs of Emotional / Psychological Abuse

Infliction of anguish, pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts is emotional / psychological abuse.

  • Reports of verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, “the silent treatment” or other enforced social isolation.
  • Being emotionally upset or agitated.
  • Being uncommunicative or nonresponsive.
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, or unexplained changes in alertness.
  • Unusual sucking, biting, rocking or similar behavior usually attributed to dementia.

Signs of Financial Exploitation

Illegal or improper use of a nursing home resident’s money, property or assets through coercion, trickery or theft is financial exploitation.

  • Unexplained disappearance of money, stock or valuable possessions.
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents, including access to bank card / accounts, by new people.
  • Discovery of the resident’s signature being forged for financial transactions or changes in titles to real estate or other property
  • Phony accounts in the resident’s name or provision of unnecessary services.

If you recognize any of the warning signs of a nursing home resident being abused or neglected, alert the nursing home’s administration. If you are not provided adequate help promptly, make written notes of the situation, including who you spoke with at the nursing home, and contact the local Department of Social Services. If you believe someone is in a life-threatening situation, call 911 and/or local police.

Contact a North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you believe someone you care for has been harmed by abuse or neglect in a North Carolina nursing home, let Hardison & Cochran help. Our nursing home abuse lawyers stand up for the rights of long-term care facility residents and their families. We can help you alert authorities, and investigate the treatment of your loved one.

Where criminal or negligent harm has been done to a nursing home resident, we will seek restitution for your family member’s losses. We serve victims and families across North Carolina. Contact us today.

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