Identifying Abuse in the Elderly2017-04-18T18:31:57+00:00

There are various types of abuse that can occur in nursing homes. Sometimes a loved one has a hard time expressing abuse. If you suspect a loved one faces abuse, watch out for these warning signs. Here are the most common types of abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can take an extreme toll on the elderly. They are often weak and unable to defend themselves from those who are attacking them. They also will not expect to face abuse from their caretaker(s). Physical abuse to an elderly person is extremely dangerous. This is because elderly people are more fragile than younger individuals.

Physical abuse can occur in many forms. This includes violent punishments, when a caretaker will discipline an elderly person. This punishment could happen for something as simple as not wanting to eat a meal when they get it. The caretaker will believe that they can bully someone into being more cooperative. This might happen by forcing them to do it instead of treating them with respect and dignity. This causes the resident to become closed off to caretaker(s). Some common examples of physical include beating or striking a person, which generally results in bruising, cuts, scrapes and other more serious injuries such as broken bones and missing teeth.

Force Feeding

Force-feeding is another example of physical abuse. Force-feeding is the act in which food is violently shoved into a residents’ mouth and they are forced to eat it. The individual may feel like they cannot breathe. The patient may not have wanted to eat at that specific time or perhaps was not feeling well. If the caretaker was being attentive, they would look for the underlying cause. They would do this instead of violently forcing the resident to eat. This can be painful and scarring for a nursing home resident and make them resent meal times.

Drug Abuse

Another example of abuse is the use of drugs for things they were not prescribed for such as sedation. Also, using drugs meant to help a resident but are used in excess or as a punishment is a cruel form of physical abuse. Treatment is not to be given at the digression of the caretaker or aid. It should be followed by them as the doctor notes or prescribes. This will cause severe physical harm to the recipient of such drugs. This is because their system will respond negatively to the drugs. Giving too much of a drug can cause an individual to have severe reactions. This can result in serious medical issues or complications. This may result in serious injuries and even death depending on the severity or the reaction.

Use of Restraints

Another type of physical abuse is the use of restraint. Restraints should not be used on an individual unless it has been specifically noted from a doctor to do so. Restraint should only be done for the safety of an individual, not to make an aid or caretaker’s job easier. Visible signs of restraint include circular bruising or indentation of the arms or legs of an individual. This is not justifiable behavior by any nursing home employee. Restraint should not have use as a punishment or for convenience. They should only get used out of medical necessity.

Neglect

Abuse may not only come in the form of physical pain. Another way that nursing home residents can be mistreated is through neglect. If you suspect a friend or loved one faces neglect, there exist several key indicators that can confirm your suspicions. Neglect can come in many forms, but some common examples are:

  • Deprivation of food.
  • Deprivation of water.
  • Inadequate clothing.
  • Inadequate shelter.
  • Not receiving necessary medications.
  • Allowing an individual to be uncomfortable.
  • Not allowing them to have adequate personal safety.

Another type of neglect is self neglect. This happens when a patient takes it upon themselves to stop caring about their health. The symptoms of self neglect are almost identical to those of neglect by caretakers. This is why an investigation is curtail to determining if the nursing home resident is self neglecting or being neglected by nursing home staff.

The Physical Signs of Neglect Include:

  • Unusual weight loss.
  • Untreated physical problems and injuries.
  • Unsanitary living conditions.
  • Unsuitable clothing for the weather and temperature.

Neglecting a patient can result in serious injuries as well as diseases and issues which arise from lack of proper hygiene. A serious side effect of neglecting a patient is bedsores. Bedsores occur when an individual is left in a certain position for too long and blood stops entering that cavity, thus resulting in the tissues to die. There is no way to bring the tissues back to life, they can only remain how they are or continue to die. These may resemble large and deep bruises but are much more dangerous. Bedsores can become so serious that they can result in amputation if a large enough portion of the tissue on a limb has died.

If you feel as though a loved one is being abused then be sure to watch for any physical marks which would indicate that physical abuse or neglect are occurring. An elderly person may feel too intimidated to share what is happening to them, so it is vital to search for any indication of abuse or neglect. Individuals should feel safe and happy in nursing homes, not targeted and vulnerable.