Red flags that may signal elder abuse or neglect

Nursing home residents should be treated well, yet thousands of elderly people are abused or neglected in the country every year.

Anyone with an elderly relative would want the best for their loved one, and expect him or her to be treated with respect by caregivers. Sadly, not every senior citizen in Chicago receives the best, or even adequate, treatment by those who are entrusted with their care. Often, the person who abuses or neglects an elderly person is someone well known to the senior, such as an adult child, sibling or spouse. Many other times, the abusive treatment comes from staff at nursing home facilities.

The information on elder neglect and abuse coming from the National Center on Elder Abuse is disturbing. Thousands of senior citizens are harmed by caregivers every year in the country. Over the past year, anywhere from 7.6 and 10 percent of all elderly Americans had been abused or neglected.

Conditions are often worse for those who suffer from age-related cognitive impairments. According to the Journal of Aging Research, those who have Alzheimer's disease are up to five times more likely to be abused or victimized than those with no mental impairments.

What are the signs that may signal abuse?

Elder abuse and neglect take many different forms. They may include emotional abuse, physical harm, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and abandonment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living has provided the following signs to look for when visiting loved ones in a nursing home:

  • Injuries that are unexplained or whose explanations don't match the type of injury
  • Bruises, scratches, broken bones or bedsores
  • Bruising or marks around private areas
  • Poor hygiene or living in unclean conditions
  • Sudden weight loss or appearance of dehydration
  • A relationship with the caregiver that seems tense, strained, angry or fearful

Changes in behavior or signs of depression may also signal abuse or neglect.

Mother of Illinois woman victimized in nursing home

The story of a Woodstock woman shows how some types of abuse are insidious and purposeful. According to the Northwest Herald, the woman placed her mother in a nursing home in British Columbia when she began showing signs of dementia. The elderly woman was victimized by women pretending to be her friends, who stole valuables and cash from her and convinced her to change her will to include them and discredit her daughter. After a drawn-out lawsuit, the women agreed to settle with the daughter. The case also shows how easily an elderly loved one can be abused by caregivers when loved ones live far away.

Your loved ones deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their old age. If you suspect abuse or neglect by nursing home caregivers, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney with experience in nursing home abuse.