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Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse


Family members who entrust Tennessee nursing homes with the care of their loved ones expect high standards of behavior from nursing home employees. While there are many upstanding people working in this field, there are also staff members who violate the trust of residents and those concerned for their well-being through abuse. For this reason, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse.

A congressional report, prepared by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, found that 30 percent of nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 9,000 instances of abuse over a recent two-year period, according to ABC News. The forms of abuse in nursing homes included physical, verbal and sexual abuse, among other causes of potentially serious injury. The report also found that the perpetrators of abuse include both staff members and other residents.

Another common form of abuse is neglect. Elderly residents of nursing homes oftentimes need consistent, thoughtful attention for medical and other issues they are experiencing. Negligence, which leaves residents without the care they need, can be as devastating as more apparent forms of abuse.

Signs may or may not be obvious

Signs of potential nursing home abuse come in forms that can be more or less obvious. Some of the more obvious signs include bruising and bleeding, burns and abrasions, or open wounds and cuts. In addition to signs on the bodies of potential victims, visual evidence in the areas where they reside, such as blood found on bedding, represents a more obvious indicator of possible nursing home abuse.

On the other hand, there are less obvious signs of nursing home abuse that may require observing more subtle behaviors or research that might otherwise not be done. For example, listlessness or unresponsiveness could signal abuse. Additionally, identifying an unexpected withdrawal or transfer of the resident's funds could be evidence of such a problem.

Staff behavior could be a signal

A couple of other signs of potential nursing home abuse centers on the behavior of nursing home employees. If an employee resists requests to visit a resident or otherwise limits friends or family from accessing the resident, this could be a tactic to limit communication about abuse that may be occurring.

A second staff behavior to watch out for is a staff member who, for whatever reason, resists leaving the resident alone with a loved one. In some cases, there may be a valid reason for this behavior. However, it's possible that the staff member may be attempting to deter the resident from disclosing abuse to someone who could take action against the perpetrator. When family members suspect that their loved ones may be victims of neglect or abuse, they should seek legal counsel from a Tennessee attorney.

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