Signs of Elder Abuse at Virginia Nursing Homes
Elder abuse is a problem in Virginia and elsewhere. When we entrust an elderly relative to the care of a nursing home or an assisted living facility, we expect them to be placed in good hands. This is not always the case.
Many facilities in Virginia fail to meet standards. A report by Medicare found inspectors found violations at one in four nursing homes in the state since 2014, the Virginia Gazette reported. Inspectors gave more than 70 homes penalties for care violations.
Elder abuse takes many forms. It involves physical, mental, and financial abuse. Relatives should look out for the signs of elder abuse in Virginia. They include:
If an elderly relative is showing the signs of malnutrition in the absence of an illness, he or she may have been deprived of food and drink or other basics.
Nursing home workers have a duty to clean and care for a resident. Poor hygiene is a sign of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Immobile nursing home residents are vulnerable to bedsores. At their most extreme, bedsores cause infections and can prove deadly. Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers. There are four stages ranging from darker skin to open wounds with exposed bones. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel provides further information on the four phases. Home workers have a duty to move residents regularly to prevent the formation of bedsores.
Frequent emergency room visits
Elderly people are more likely to fall than people of other ages. However, frequent E.R. admissions often indicate elder neglect and abuse. Nursing home staff have a responsibility to prevent residents from falling. Workers must put up bed rails around residents who are vulnerable to falls. Regular admissions to the emergency room may also point to deliberate physical abuse.
Appearing drugged or confused
Elderly relatives who appear sedated may be overmedicated. In the past, many nursing homes used powerful drugs to control residents. This practice is now unlawful.
Residents of nursing homes and assisted care facilities can also be under-medicated. This is also serious elder abuse because they are being deprived of the medication they need for their health conditions. If medication is missing or a relative appears to be in pain, staff may be stealing medications.
Being withdrawn or unwilling to talk
Withdrawn behavior or an unwillingness to talk may be a sign of bullying or emotional abuse at a nursing home. Abusers often threaten older people and warn them of consequences if they report their behavior.
Bruises, cuts, welts, and burns
Always report signs of physical abuse like bruises, cuts, and burns to law enforcement. These are signs nursing home workers are deliberately assaulting older people.
Lack of basic amenities
Neglect is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. Often nursing homes are under-staffed or inexperienced nursing staff are unaware of the needs of elderly people. Make sure your relative has access to basic amenities like food and water.
A decline in the resident’s living standards
If you notice a decline in the living standards of a relative, he or she may be a victim of financial abuse. Make sure you know who has control over your relative’s finances and your relative is in control of their money.
An unexplained sexually transmitted disease
In 2017, a CNN report pointed to widespread sexual abuse of elders at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the United States. You should be aware of the potential signs of sexual abuse including an elderly relative being diagnosed with an STD, bruises on their thighs, and inappropriate relationships with nursing staff.
Residents Wandering Away
Wandering and elopement is another form of elder abuse. Nursing homes often house elderly residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. They have an obligation to maintain a secure environment. When elderly residents wander off the premises, they are likely to get lost and can quickly succumb to heat, cold or get hurt on highways.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone. In some cases, relatives are abused by their own family members. The most vulnerable people such as those in wheelchairs or over 80 years old are more likely to be abused in homes.
You should always be aware of the dangers of elder abuse. Report concerns to nursing home management and law enforcement if you are concerned about conditions at a facility. If your loved one suffers an injury at a Virginia nursing home, please contact our nursing home injury lawyers at (757) 204-1218.