Given how frequently abuse occurs in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, it is both natural and important that loved ones remain concerned about the safety of residents. Without an ever-present low level of concern, signs that abuse is occurring may be missed.
“Okay,” you may be thinking. “I’m concerned. But how do I know what I’m supposed to be looking out for?” This is a fair question, especially because nursing home abuse can be so difficult to both identify and verify.
The main challenges that loved ones face
The primary reason why it can be difficult to know with any certainty whether your loved one is being abused is that the signs and symptoms of abusive circumstances can manifest due to challenges that have nothing to do with abuse. For example, if your loved one is struggling with malnutrition and dehydration, they may be suffering from neglect or their memory condition may be progressing and they may be pulling out IVs inserted in an attempt to compensate for the fact that they’re slowly forgetting how to swallow.
Secondarily, it can be challenging to know that your loved one may not be a reliable narrator. If they have certain physical disabilities or have experienced cognitive decline, they may not be in a position to advocate for themselves. But even if they are ordinarily capable of advocating on their own behalf, they may remain silent about what is going on out of fear of retaliation, shame or a host of other emotionally challenging realities.
By understanding that nursing home abuse is hard to spot, you can be inspired to research warning signs, keep a vigilant eye out and trust your gut when it tells you that a particular concerning sign or symptom is a red flag. At that point, you can discreetly seek legal guidance to better understand your rights and options.