Often times, a person places their elderly parent, grandparent, or family member in a nursing home so they are able to receive the professional attention and care they need. It's a hard decision for any person to make, but it means that their loved one will be able to live their late years well taken care of, and hopefully happy. The unfortunate truth about some nursing homes is that they are not always safe. It's a horrifying concept, but elder abuse in nursing homes happens. Depending on the physical or mental health of your loved one, sometimes this abuse is slid under the rug, or the elder is completely unaware that they are being abused. Understanding the signs of elder abuse can mean saving the life of your loved one.
If your loved one begins showing signs of physical injuries, they may be a victim of abuse. If this is the case, the caregiver may make excuses as to why you can't see your loved one alone, or in some cases completely ignore your visitation request all together. If this is the case, you should speak to someone other than the caregiver in regards to this issue.
When you are able to see your loved one, make sure to ask the necessary questions. Are they happy? Do they feel like they are being taken care of? Being abused is absolutely traumatizing, and your elder family member may fear what will happen to them if they are honest with you about their abuse. If this seems like it's the case, try not to ask obvious questions; they may feel safer answering questions that they believe won't get them in trouble later.
If your elder family member is not able to communicate with you, then it's necessary to rely on your senses to get answers. Do they seem in pain? Do they show signs of physical abuse such as bruises, scars, broken bones or dislocations? Do they seem unkempt? These are obvious signs of abuse and should be taken seriously.
Sometimes signs of abuse aren't easily detectable. Physical abuse is not the only way a caregiver can harm your loved one. Abuse of medication (drug abuse, or failure to provide elder with proper dosage), emotional abuse (controlling, vicious, threatening behavior from caregiver), neglect, and sexual abuse are also common ways an elder can be abused at a nursing home. While there may be physical signs of these types of abuse, sometimes the number one sign of abuse is your gut reaction.
If for any reason you find yourself feeling like your elder family member's caregiver is abusing them in any way, your gut may be trying to tell you something. Any inclination of abuse is worthy of investigation. If your family member doesn't seem like their regular selves, their personality has altered, or behavior begins to emulate signs of dementia (rocking, mumbling to self, etc.), they may be suffering from elder abuse, and you should seek legal consultation immediately. Elder abuse is a horrific crime that should be punished as such.
If you discover that a loved has been a victim of elder abuse due to a "caregiver" or a liable nursing home, please reach out to our Chicago Nursing Home and Neglect Criminal Defense Lawyers at Nemeroff Law Offices for a free consultation. Call us today at 312.629.8800.