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7 warning signs of nursing home abuse

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging (AoA), hundreds of thousands of elders in the U.S. suffer from abuse and neglect every year. No shortage of elderly nursing home residents in Alton, Edwardsville and throughout Southern Illinois are among the victims of this widespread epidemic.

Elder abuse can take many forms, from neglect and abandonment to willful physical, financial and sexual abuse. 

Sadly, abused elders often suffer in silence because they are unable to express their feelings and tell others what is happening to them. Concerned family members can make a difference. By monitoring the elder's mood, behavior and physical condition, a caring relative or friend can identify and report signs of nursing home abuse and neglect that would otherwise be ignored.

Seven common warning signs of nursing home neglect are:

  1. Unexplained bruises, abrasions, lacerations and other visible injuries.
  2. Sudden weight loss, indicating potential malnutrition.
  3. Withdrawn behavior, episodes of depression and disinterest in activities that once brought joy.
  4. Strained communication between the resident and the caregiver, sudden silence or disturbed behavior when a caregiver enters the room.
  5. Bed sores: painful skin ulcers caused by prolonged stress on pressure points such as the hips, knees and buttocks, typically caused by failure to reposition immobile residents in beds or chairs.
  6. Sudden loss of money or items of value, indicating potential financial abuse.
  7. Bruises and other injuries around the breasts or genitals, indicating potential sexual abuse.

What can I do?

It is devastating to learn a loved one has suffered in a nursing home, but there are steps you can take to protect your family member and others from future acts.

  • If a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 or contact the local police for help.
  • Contact the National Center on Elder Abuse resource center for Illinois.
  • Call the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116.
  • Talk to your family member's primary care physician or another trusted medical provider.

You may also wish to speak with a lawyer who has experience handling elder abuse and nursing home negligence claims. Taking legal action can not only help your loved one, but also prevent future similar acts and make nursing homes safer for others.

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