Abuse of elderly patients is one of the most common forms of nursing home neglect, yet even experienced administrators have difficulty spotting instances of patient abuse by their staff.
Understanding the various forms of elder abuse and being alert to various warning signs is one of the best methods of guarding against lawsuits brought by relatives of a patient seeking damages.
An overview of older adult abuse
The phrase “older adult” usually refers to any patient over the age of 65. These patients are especially vulnerable to physical abuse, which can include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Financial exploitation
Physical abuse usually involves hitting the patient or using extreme physical restraint to control the patient. Signs of physical abuse usually include bruising, laceration, sprains or fractures, burn marks, or poorly treated injuries, poor hygiene, and hair loss. Any sudden change in a patient’s appearance can be a sign of abuse.
Sexual abuse is sexual contact that does not have the patient’s consent. An older person who lacks mental capacity cannot consent to unwanted sexual contact. Signs of sexual abuse include torn or stained underwear, bruising on breasts or genitals, unexplained genital infections, or inappropriate interactions between the victim and the abuser.
Psychological abuse is the intentional infliction of anguish, pain or distress through either verbal or non-verbal conduct. Signs of psychological or emotional abuse can include unexplained weight changes, higher blood pressure, increased health problems, problems with sleep, visible fear in the presence of the perpetrator.
Lack of space limits prevent a complete list of all types of abuse and their symptoms, but one of the best preventive methods is to ensure that all staff members are aware of the various types of abuse and their symptoms. Any complaints should be immediately referred to an attorney knowledgeable about nursing home laws and regulations.