How to Recognize Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

Nursing home abuse or neglect is defined generally as any action or failure to act that causes unreasonable suffering, misery, or harm to the patient. It can include assault of a patient, but can also include withholding necessary food, medical attention, or physical care from the patient. It is important that families stay involved in the lives of their loved ones once they have been placed in a nursing home. This is the best way to prevent or recognize abuse. Below are five main categories of abuse and their warning signs.

1. Neglect – Neglect can be intentional or unintentional on the part of the nursing home facility. Neglect happens when a patient’s needs are not being met. This includes not providing appropriate food, water, medical, and personal care for the patient. This can be an intentional choice on the part of the staff or it can happen be unintentional and due to the lack of adequate staffing in a nursing home facility.

It is important to know the warning signs for neglect. A neglected patient may be dehydrated or malnourished. Bed sores and other skin conditions can be signs of neglect. A decline in personal hygiene can be a sign of personal care being neglected. Weight loss is also a sign consistent with neglect. If any of these signs are present, your loved one may be the victim of neglect.

2. Psychological Abuse – Psychological abuse in nursing homes is one type that can be very hard to identify, because it can be subtle and hard to notice. Elders feel extreme sadness, fear, and anxiety. This type of abuse occurs when there is excessive yelling, humiliating, criticizing, or shaming the patient. It might also involve threatening and intimidation of the elderly patient. Many times, psychological abuse is accompanied by other forms of abuse.

Elderly people who experience psychological abuse will often become timid and withdrawn. Depression is a sign of psychological abuse. Some victims of psychological abuse will become more angry, agitated, and aggressive. Changes in behavior are common in patients who experience this type of abuse. Due to depression, there may be sudden weight loss and loss of appetite. These patients may even refuse to eat or take medications. Since this is a difficult form of abuse to identify, it is important to be aware of these