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Common signs of nursing home abuse

One of the best things about the technological boom of the last forty years has been the increase in life expectancy. As a result of this development, many people have had the opportunity to know more generations of their own family and to experience more in a lifetime than ever before.

At the same time, some of the social institutions that are designed to help us cope with end-of-life issues are having a hard time with the growing number of senior citizens who need care. As a result, nursing homes may struggle to meet the needs of the growing elderly population. As the industry has both good and bad actors, it is important to know when the people charged with your loved ones' care are actually doing harm.

Here are signs that may indicate your loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing facility:

Signs of physical abuse

There are a number of signs of physical abuse in elders that are easy to spot because they mirror those seen in anyone who has been physically abused. The following may be indicators:

· Rapid weight gain or loss

· Indications of pain, such as wincing while moving, that are new and unexplained

· Broken bones

· Bed sores

· Bruises, especially new or unexplained ones

· Depression and anxiety

· Physical withdrawal

These symptoms are especially dangerous in cases of elder abuse because the mental and physical effects of abuse can lead to a cycle of decreasing care and self-care that becomes very hard for the elderly to correct.

Other forms of abuse

While physical abuse is prevalent and identifying it is important, there are other forms of abuse that can happen instead of physical harm. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists a few of the most common on its site for the Administration on Community Living:

· Financial exploitation, including limiting access to funds or creating costs and fees that do not exist

· Emotional abuse, such as threats, verbal abuse or emotionally harmful acts like isolation and social alienation

· Neglect, including the self-neglect that can happen when depression and anxiety overtake one's coping abilities

Knowing how to prevent abuse in nursing homes is partly about watching out for the warning signs of physical abuse so that you are able to catch them early if anything happens.

Paying attention to more subtle cues can also prevent the opportunity for abuse from developing. For example, frequent disagreements between caregivers and elderly patients can be a warning sign. It is one that families are often too quick to dismiss or overlook.

Those who believe that their loved ones are being abused are advised to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

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