The holiday season is a special time for family and friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company, especially for elderly adults. Getting a visit at their nursing home, or getting picked-up to enjoy family festivities can bring true joy to an aging loved one.

A trip to the nursing home of your loved one is also an opportunity to check in on them. Unfortunately, this means being diligent and on the lookout for any potential signs of abuse and neglect. Elder abuse is reprehensible in any form, and bear in mind it can happen anywhere and it is a lot more common than you might realize. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, which was established by the U.S. Administration on Aging, elder abuse affects about 10 percent of all elderly adults living in community settings, like nursing homes, although the incidence rate is likely higher given that abuse often goes unreported.

Elder abuse occurs in different ways: physically, psychologically, verbally, through neglect, financial exploitation, and even sexually. Knowing what to look for is the first step toward removing them from danger, and can literally be a matter of life and death. Upon visiting, start to make initial observations. Is the facility clean? Does there appear to be sufficient staff? What is the demeanor of your family member’s care team?

Also, keep an eye out for stark changes in an elder loved one’s behavior and personality, or for unusual tension between them and any nursing home employees. These are tell-tale signs just as they would be for an abused or neglected child. Other warning signs can include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Bedsores, dehydration and dirty clothes and bedding.
  • Bruises, welts or more serious injuries that are not easily explained.
  • Refusing to be alone with a particular caregiver.
  • Refusal of a caregiver to leave you alone with your elderly loved one.
  • Witnessing inappropriate, controlling or threatening behavior from a staff member.
  • Unsafe conditions, such as an unusually hot bedroom.
  • Elderly residents who are poorly dressed for weather conditions.

If you suspect something is wrong, seek help immediately. It is never the wrong time to schedule a case evaluation  with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney and our local team is available to you 24 hours a day. Nursing home abuse and improper care are unacceptable, and there are numerous laws and regulations that provide accountability when violations occur.

Be extra mindful of elder abuse this holiday season. It is not always obvious, and ignoring it is not an option as vulnerable older adults are often defenseless against their abusers. Do not wait to contact us with your questions.