A 2018 report from the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights revealed the state has an average of 11,500 elder abuse reports annually. Many of these are in nursing homes.
These care facilities should be safe and caring places for elderly individuals who need assistance and support. But when abuse occurs, it is essential for loved ones to recognize the signs.
Unexplained physical injuries
Keep an eye out for unexplained bruises, cuts or injuries. Frequent injuries that staff cannot explain are a cause for concern.
Pay attention to sudden changes in mood or behavior. A person who was once outgoing becoming withdrawn, anxious or unusually quiet could indicate emotional abuse.
Neglect of basic needs
If hygiene, nutrition or living conditions deteriorate, it might be a sign of neglect. Proper care includes providing clean clothes, nutritious meals and a safe environment. Watch for signs of inadequate care, such as bedsores or unexplained weight loss.
Unexplained financial issues
Financial changes or missing personal belongings may be a clue to financial exploitation. This type of abuse targets vulnerable elderly individuals as a way to gain their money and assets without consent.
If someone stops participating in social activities or communicating with friends and family, it could be a sign of mistreatment. Abusers might isolate them to maintain control and prevent them from revealing the mistreatment.
Staff members who refuse or put off answering questions or addressing concerns might be a red flag. Open communication between family and staff is essential, and uncooperative behavior can indicate deeper problems.
Recognizing and acting on signs of mistreatment in nursing homes is key to ensuring the safety and well-being of residents. After all, everyone deserves to live their later years with dignity and respect.