One of the most tragic elements of the COVID-19 pandemic has been nursing home visitation restrictions. These restrictions kept families apart at a time when long term care had never been worse, which has led to awful and intractable resident isolation, and opened the doors for signs of elder abuse to be ignored or go unnoticed.
Recently the The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, reinstated some pre-COVID-19 guidelines that will allow family and friends to visit their loved ones in nursing homes and care facilities. We figured this would be a great time to remind everyone to keep an eye out for signs of abuse and speak up for those who may not be able to do so for themselves. Below is a list of 8 signs of elder abuse and neglect you should look for.
1. Poor Hygiene
If you notice dirty fingernails, signs that they have not been bathed, matted hair, filthy sheets or clothes, or if it seems they have not been showered in a long time, you will want to take action to have these things remedied as soon as possible. If the conditions do not improve, if your concerns are ignored, or if they get worse, it might be time to take greater action and report the neglect.
Malnutrition might be more difficult to spot. Some symptoms of malnutrition are weight loss, weakness, dizziness, and fatigue.
3. Inadequate living situations
In a nursing home or care facility, everyone has the right to basic necessities, privacy, trained help, and activities. An inadequate living situation might look like over-crowding, few, delayed, or no responses from staff, understaffing, dirty rooms, or long spans of time between seeing a staff member.
4. Worsened health conditions
Worsened health conditions can be a result of many forms of neglect. If your loved one’s mental or physical health seems to be getting worse or if a new symptom or illness becomes apparent, evaluate your loved one’s living situation to see if there is anything the facility is doing or failing to do that would cause this change.
5. Unexplained injuries
A clear sign of elder abuse is when the person has injuries that indicate force was used. Large, inexplicable bruises anywhere on the body can indicate that your loved one has been the victim of physical abuse. Call the authorities immediately.
6. Signs of anxiety
While anxiety is natural and can also be a side effect of medications, extreme anxiety, fear, or the outright refusal to cooperate can be signs that emotional or verbal abuse has taken place, or that the living conditions are inadequate.
7. Tension with Caregivers
Arguments and tension with caregivers are another indication of emotional abuse. If your loved one has stopped communicating openly or seems nervous around or particularly angry towards a member of staff, monitor the interactions to determine if something more is wrong.
8. Unexplained Financial Changes
Financial abuse may be another form of abuse that is hard to spot. However, if you are a power of attorney you will have the ability to monitor transactions, bills, etc. and notice when something seems off. If you are not power of attorney and do not have access to these types of records, keep an eye out for drastic changes in their standards of living, unnecessary items or house work, overdue bills, etc. and note if your loved one mentions meeting someone new, or talking about someone visiting them that you are not familiar with.
If you notice signs of neglect or abuse, call the proper authorities and then contact Gharibian Law (866-239-8812) for a free consultation and the best legal representation.