Charlottesville Elder Abuse Lawyer

Charlottesville nursing home patient with a walker.

Caring for an elderly loved one can be a very stressful experience, particularly if that loved one requires care and services you are unable or unequipped to provide. In these situations, placing your loved one in a nursing home is often the most compassionate move to make. If you are the person responsible for checking on the health, life and well-being of a loved one in a nursing home, it is devastating to discover he or she has fallen victim to nursing home neglect or abuse.

Even if you have taken care to find a reputable facility, nursing home abuse, neglect and exploitation is far more common than you may realize. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), between one and two million U.S. adults ages 65 and older have been mistreated, exploited, abused or injured by someone entrusted with their care. It is suspected that only one out of every 14 incidents is reported to authorities.

To protect your loved one, and reduce the chances of falling victim to nursing home abuse, it is essential you recognize the signs of nursing home abuse.

Common Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is just one of the types of abuse which is sometimes seen in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. If your loved one is being physically abused by the staff or employees in the nursing home in which he or she resides, you may be able to put a stop to it, if you see the following signs:

  • Unexplained scratches, cuts or bites
  • Wrap-around bruises, such as would be caused by a person grabbing someone’s arm or body in a violent or forceful motion
  • Fractures or broken bones in which the exact cause cannot be adequately explained
  • Burns, such as from a cigarette or contact with a scalding surface
  • Injuries as a result of being pushed, shoved, slapped, bitten or hit
  • Abrasions which appear to be from ropes, straps or restraints
  • Injuries which do not seem to receiving the proper care, which could be as a result of the elderly patient attempting to self-treat out of fear of retribution
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch, possibly due to bruising or internal injuries
  • Pain or problems with bodily functions
  • Dramatic hair loss or unexplained tooth loss
  • Continuous injuries requiring medical treatment or hospitalization
  • Sudden lack of interest or withdrawal from usual activities and social interactions
  • Unexplained inhibitions around certain residents or staff

Recognizing Emotional Nursing Home Abuse

Emotional nursing home abuse is not always as easy to identify as physical abuse, however it is quite common, and can occur in either verbal or non-verbal forms. Signs of emotional abuse may be seen in a loved one who is exhibiting any of the following behaviors:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Having a low self esteem
  • Unwillingness to speak openly, particularly in front of certain members of the staff
  • An unexplained change of attitude, such as a feeling of hopelessness or fright
  • Sudden mood swings, or changes in sleep and eating habits
  • Self-inflicting pain or desire to hurt others
  • Seeming withdrawn, depressed or shy, despite usually having an outgoing personality

Signs Your Loved One May Be the Victim of Nursing Home Neglect

Another example of nursing home abuse is elder neglect. When elderly patients and residents are ignored and neglected, their physical or emotional state may get decidedly worse, and their overall health can often be seen to decline rapidly. If you have observed any of these signs, your loved one may be the victim of elder neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Open wounds or cuts that have not been treated
  • Burns and abrasions
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unexplained gaunt appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Soiled, torn or stained clothes or bedsheets
  • Infections
  • Hair loss or a disheveled look
  • Listless behavior

Spotting Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Aside from outright violence, sexual abuse is one of the most physically-taxing and vicious types of nursing home abuse. If your loved one is being sexually abused, he or she may not be willing to admit to the fact out of fear or humiliation. These signs may help you be able to spot sexual abuse to a loved one in a nursing home setting:

  • Bloodstained clothing or sheets
  • Bruising around thighs, breasts or buttocks
  • Unexplained rips or stains on undergarments
  • Bleeding or bruising around the genitals
  • Fear, anxiety or inhibition around certain people
  • Pain when sitting or walking that cannot be easily explained
  • Contraction of a sexually-transmitted disease or infection
  • Depression or sudden unwillingness to communicate

Tell-Tale Signs Your Loved One is Being Financially Exploited

Financial exploitation among the elderly is a particularly heartless crime, as in some cases it can leave a victim without the financial resources to continue receiving the care and treatment necessary for the rest of his or her life. Your loved one is likely being financially exploited if you observe any of these tell-tale signs:

  • Missing cash or checks
  • Unexplained credit card charges
  • Purchases for items your loved one couldn’t possibly need or use
  • Forged signatures on documents or invoices
  • Donations to unrecognized charities or organizations
  • Contributions for investments of which you have no prior knowledge
  • Misplaced or missing valuables

If you have a loved one who you suspect may be the victim of nursing home abuse, or you know of someone who you believe is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, our firm is here to help. Contact a skilled Virginia nursing home abuse attorney at Kendall Law Firm today to discuss your case and the legal options available to you.

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