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What do you do if a loved one was abused at a nursing home?

When you made the important decision to place your mother into a nursing home, you knew it would be difficult but ultimately the best decision. You probably did the necessary research to find the best fit for your mother. You trust the people who work in the facility. Well, what if one day you discovered bruises on your mother's arms and she told you that she was not being treated well. What do you do then?

Nursing home abuse is prevalent in the United States. Roughly, 1 to 2 million people over 65-years-old have been injured, mistreated or exploited by a caregiver. That is one in three. The types abuse include verbal, sexual, physical, even financial. Like many other victims of abuse, those abused in a nursing home do not report the incidents to police. And that is true in more than 25% of severe cases of abuse. Failure to report the crimes also happens for fear of retaliation, the victims physically or cognitively were not able to or they did not want to get the abuser in trouble. This may be true when the abuser is potentially a family member. Unfortunately, the medical professionals who work in the nursing homes lack the proper training and may miss the signs. There are some signs of elder abuse you should look for. They include:

  • Neglect is committed by people who take care of your mother. It can include bedsores on your mother, dirty or unsanitary living conditions, malnutrition or even untreated medical conditions.
  • Physical abuse is generally some type of injury. It can be anything from bruises to broken bones or even brain injuries. The injuries could be the result of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Also be on the lookout for a history of frequent injuries.
  • Financial abuse is when someone steals from your mother. That includes credit cards, checks, property and fail to make payments on time if at all. Many times, it is the family members who are the offenders.
  • Someone may be abusing your mother psychologically. With this your mother may be afraid of a caregiver, and becomes disengaged from the family. It may be harder for you to notice.

There are federal and state laws in place to protect people just like your mother. The Elder Justice Act of 2009 was put in place to combat neglect, abuse and exploitation. If you believe your mother is the victim of nursing home abuse there are steps you can take to protect her. You should also consider speaking to an attorney.

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