Detect Nursing

The abuse of the elderly in this country is more prevalent than people would like to believe. While cases of abuse are typically associated with nursing homes and burnt-out caregivers, abuses also occur in hospitals, assisted living settings, and private homes. Fortunately, most types of abuse leave unmistakable signs that can be noticed when friends, loved ones, and medical professionals pay attention.


What to Do First

When abuse is suspected, the first action is to keep the older person safe and contact a personal injury firm. An experienced lawyer can assist with moving the loved one to a permanent setting, notifying the appropriate agencies about the suspicions, and beginning to build a strong case. Determining what type of abuse has occurred and what restitution amount will be requested are also beginning steps in preparing for an abuse lawsuit.


Five Types of Abuse

A working definition of elder abuse is intentional or negligent acts knowingly committed against an elderly person. These acts fall into five basic categories:
  • 1. Physical abuse
  • 2. Emotional abuse
  • 3. Financial abuse
  • 4. Neglect
  • 5. Abandonment
In some cases, elderly people are victims of more than one type due to the overlapping nature of abuse. Someone subject to physical abuse, for example, will feel emotional and mental anguish and physical pain.


Detecting Abuse

Recognizing signs of abuse can be difficult depending on the level of interaction between the person receiving care and family members and friends. A daughter who lives out of state may be unable to visit often. A bruise or broken glasses can be explained away quickly enough by staff during a visit. The daughter will not think twice about it because she cannot determine a pattern of bruises, burn marks, or other signs of physical abuse.

Frequent visitors, volunteers, and other caregivers commonly notice signs of emotional abuse. Changes in behavior, depression, fatigue, and outbursts are typical signs. These can also be signs of dementia, confusion, or a brain tumor. Medical issues must be ruled out to move forward with an abuse case.

Financial abuse is easier to find because family members get monthly financial reports and are interested in how money is spent. Bills that are suddenly not paid, dwindling resources rapidly, and financial purchases or decisions that are far from the norm of the person getting care are definite signs of financial abuse.



Abandonment and Neglect

These abuses are often challenging to determine and prove because those in care have freedoms protected by law. Abandonment is an elderly person being left in a public place by the person responsible for providing care. One space covered is practicing the religion of choice. Staff, private duty caregivers, and even relatives can claim that the person was left alone in a place of worship to exercise that freedom.

Neglect is indicated by bed sores, poor hygiene, weight loss, and thirst, among other signs. People have the right to refuse. If an elderly person refuses to get in the shower three days in a row, poor hygiene will result. In this case, alternatives should have been provided, such as washing up at the sink, a bed bath, or shampoo requiring no water.



Seniors Who Have Increased Vulnerability

Some factors make senior citizens more vulnerable to abuse than others, as identified by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). These include social isolation, lack of community involvement, and degree of dependence. Cognitive impairment, dementia, finances, and living situations also contribute to vulnerability. The fewer people who interact with the older person decreases the number of those who would notice signs of abuse.

Do not assume that the care provided to elders is above reproach. Many facilities, settings, and caregivers in private homes take excellent care of those they are responsible for. The critical aspect to consider is whether or not the older person appears comfortable in the living space, at ease with the people around, and free from pain.