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How can you protect a loved one from nursing home abuse?

The decision to put an elderly loved one in the care of a nursing home is likely one of the more challenging choices in any South Carolina resident’s life. You have to put all your trust in people of whom you know nothing. A walk-through when you tour the facility might not give you an insight into the reality of the day-to-day treatment and care provided to residents.

Sadly, thousands of South Carolina seniors who are older than 60 years suffer abuse in assisted living facilities and nursing homes each year. The fact that the media publishes frequent reports of both physical and financial abuse that take place in these facilities will do nothing to ease your mind.

Abuse comes in different forms

You will likely want to look out for the safety of your loved one because, regardless of the type of abuse he or she suffers, it could cause overwhelming depression and fear. The more you learn about the potential risks of nursing home living, the easier it will be to spot irregularities before they cause too much harm. Abuse can take place in the following forms:

  • Neglect: This occurs when the appointed caregiver ignores the patient or resident’s needs.
  • Physical abuse: Causing bodily harm by slapping, pushing and hitting falls in this category.
  • Sexual abuse: Some abusers force older adults to participate in or watch sexual acts.
  • Emotional abuse: This type of abuse  involves the psychological breaking down of the patient by yelling, passing hurtful comments, ignoring and threatening the older person. Sometimes, the caregiver would prevent contact with relatives, friends and loved ones.
  • Financial abuse: Typical acts include taking the patient’s belongings and money by forging checks, using a patient’s bank accounts or credit cards without authorization, and taking his or her Social Security and retirement benefits. Some abusers go as far as changing names on bank accounts, wills, titles to houses and insurance policies.

Red flags that might alert you to abuse

The only way that you can protect your loved one in a nursing home is to be vigilant. You should visit frequently and at different times of the day and not rely on the older person to tell you about abuse because victims often think they deserve it or that they brought it on themselves. You should also keep an eye out for telltale signs of abuse by looking for the following red flags:

  • Does your loved one seem tired and showing signs of the lack of sleep. Abuse can cause a victim to have trouble falling asleep.
  • Do you see signs of unexplained weight loss?
  • Abuse can cause the victim to become depressed, confused and withdrawn.
  • Look out for trauma signs which might be evident by the person rocking back and forth.
  • When the person seems agitated and shows violent tendencies, it could be because he or she suffers abuse.
  • Look for bruises, scars or burns, and note that abusers might make sure they hurt the older person in areas where clothes can hide the evidence.
  • At the same time, you can look for preventable conditions like bedsores.
  • Dirty clothes, unwashed hair and an overall messy look can indicate neglect.
  • If your loved one withdraws from participating in activities that he or she enjoyed before, find out why.
  • Monitor credit card and bank statements for irregularities.

What you can do

It is crucial to act immediately even if you only suspect abuse of a loved one in a nursing home. Finding proof can be challenging, and it might be a smarter move to secure the services of a South Carolina attorney who has extensive experience in fighting for the rights of the elderly. The lawyer will know how to investigate, and if you have a valid claim, he or she will explain your options and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.