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Protecting loved ones from nursing home neglect

The safety and well-being of loved ones is always a top priority. Making the determination that your loved one may need round-the-clock care and monitoring can be difficult. Doing so shouldn’t result in added danger.

Nursing home neglect happens far too frequently. Just this month Tennessee state officials had to prevent a Knoxville nursing home from admitting new patients due to evidence of mistreatment of a patient with dementia. The Westmoreland Health and Rehabilitation Center must also pay $30,000 in penalties stemming from the case.

No one deserves the mistreatment this patient received at the hands of her intended caretakers. As the family member of a patient in nursing home care, you may need to be aware of signs of neglect and prepared to discuss concerns with your loved one.

Types of elder abuse

Each case of abuse or neglect will vary. Some signs are less noticeable than others, but informing yourself of what to watch for can help keep a loved one safe. The CDC defines mistreatment six ways:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse

These categories may not cover all types of elder abuse, but they include the most common types of mistreatment of people over 60-years-old.

Signs of mistreatment can vary, but include physical injuries such as bed sores, cuts, fractures, bruises or drastic, unexplained weight loss. Abuse may be emotional and present in the form of mood swings, refusal of medications, loss of appetite or fear of certain people who may contribute to their neglect.

Difficulties of spotting elder abuse

One difficult aspect of identifying neglect is that some symptoms may be from existing illness and the general deterioration that occurs near the end of life. Mood changes and weight loss can happen in any person, regardless of mistreatment, so it’s important to use logic and caution when considering whether a loved one is subject to mistreatment.

Take the time to educate yourself about the signs of elder neglect and abuse. Although it may be difficult to discuss mistreatment with a loved one, try to maintain an open dialogue and give them the chance to confide in you if necessary. No one should have to worry about safety in a care facility, so do your part in protecting the potentially vulnerable loved ones in your life.

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