Identify and prevent elder neglect and abuse, part 2

In our previous post, we began a series covering various points about elder abuse. It’s a crucial conversation because studies show that the elderly population is too often at risk of being abused at the hands of caregivers, including those who are supposed to take care of them in nursing home facilities.

Nursing home negligence and abuse can lead to the untimely, preventable loss of a loved one. If the abuse and neglect aren’t fatal, the maltreatment is still devastating. It takes away people’s ability to live out the end of their lives with peace and dignity, free from fear. The following are more types of abuse and neglect that loved ones should look out for among their elderly friends and family members:

As we mentioned in the past post, the most obvious form of abuse is physical abuse such as hitting. But there other kinds of abuse that are just as dangerous and ugly.

Sexual abuse

Of course, if a loved one says that he or she has been sexually victimized in a nursing home, don’t second guess that report. Physical signs that could help support your instinct to respond are bruises in the private areas of the elderly patient (breasts and genitals). Also examine whether the patient is bleeding from their private areas or has clothing with evidence of such unusual bleeding. If it’s discovered that your loved one is suffering from an unexplainable sexually transmitted disease or genital infection, it could also be a warning sign that sexual abuse has occurred.

Emotional abuse

Abuse isn’t just about physical injuries or physical force. Since we were kids, we have all known that words can be extremely damaging or cause someone to live in fear. When an elderly patient is abused emotionally or psychologically, he might behave differently. He could avoid people, always seem on edge or nervous and revert to childlike tendencies such as rocking and more.

Noticing changes in a loved one’s daily behaviors can be a good indicator that it’s time you looked into whether neglect and abuse is going on within the walls of a nursing home. We will continue with this series in the next post.


The Florida Times-Union: “Warning Signs of Abuse in Later Life,” Oct. 25, 2011

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