Elder Abuse–Know the Signs

We should all be able to look forward to our golden years as a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors. Sadly, millions of elderly Americans do not get to do that. Instead, they live in neglectful or abusive situations.

Don’t let this happen to your loved one. Knowing the signs can help you recognize elder abuse or neglect if it happens to your loved one. If you do see any of these signs, you have legal options available to put a stop to the abuse or neglect and get justice for your family member.

Statistics regarding elder abuse are very difficult to come by, because the elderly often do not report the abuse or neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, or NCEA, for every one case of abuse or neglect that is reported, five more go unreported.

If you have a loved one who is in a Washington nursing home, or is being cared for by a Washington assisted-care facility, look for the following signs of abuse or neglect:

  • Sores and bruises – Some bedsores and bruises may be inevitable, depending on the patient’s physical condition; however, excessive sores can indicate that the patient is being neglected. Always ask for an explanation when you see a bruise or a sore.
  • Restraint marks – look for marks on the wrists or ankles for signs that your loved one has been restrained. Restraining a patient is rarely medically necessary.
  • Accidents–While the elderly are certainly prone to accidents, too many “accidents” may indicate the caregiver is covering up neglect or abuse.
  • Weight loss – If your loved one is losing weight without a good medical reason, he or she may not be getting fed on a regular basis, another sign of neglect.
  • Poor hygiene – Look for signs that your loved one has not been bathed, his or her clothes have not been washed and teeth have not been brushed, or other signs of poor personal hygiene.
  • Change in mood – For some elderly nursing home residents, neglect can manifest as unexplained angry outbursts; for others, it may be depression or even tears. Any change in what you would consider to be your loved one’s normal personality should be scrutinized.
  • Withdrawal – If your loved one appears withdrawn, take a closer look. Elderly neglect or abuse victims are often ashamed of their circumstances and become very quiet and reluctant to speak up.
  • Fear – Pay close attention to the interaction between your loved one and his or her caregivers. If you see anything that appears to be fear, it warrants further investigation.

If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect of your loved one at a Washington senior care facility, be vigilant about following up. Remember that many elderly victims do not want to admit the abuse or neglect is taking place, because they feel ashamed to be in such a position or because they fear reprisals from the caregivers.

Abuse and neglect is often the result of poorly managed or understaffed facilities or agencies. If this is the case, you may have a cause of action against the facility or the agency providing the care. You should act on your suspicions only after consulting your attorney.

The attorneys at Mariano Morales Law have been helping victims of elderly abuse for over three decades in the Yakima area. If you suspect abuse or neglect of an elderly loved one, contact our Washington legal team today by calling (509) 853-2222 for your free initial consultation.