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Knowing the signs of nursing home abuse

Pennsylvanians often take their loved ones to nursing homes so that their medical and other needs can be taken care of more efficiently. They also take them there so the elderly can enjoy the twilight of their lives and ride off into the sunset, so to speak. Although most nursing homes provide appropriate care and quality service, there may be others that fail to perform their duties, which can result in abuse. It is essential for Pennsylvanians to know the signs of nursing home abuse. Knowing the signs of abuse is crucial as repeated and persistent abuse can often result in nursing home deaths.

Physical abuse is often more prominent. Bruises or grip marks on body parts, as well as welts or rope marks are signs that a nursing home resident is experiencing physical abuse. Another sign is when a resident repeatedly suffers unexplained injuries. Often, both the resident and the nursing home staff dismiss such injuries or downplay the need to go to the hospital to have the repeated injuries checked.

Emotional and verbal abuse is generally referred to as psychological abuse. This type of abuse also has physical manifestations, not in the forms of wounds or bruises but through behavior. Residents who suffer abuse often exhibit extreme emotions, from being unresponsive and uncommunicative to being suspicious and fearful. Abused residents also shun social contact and are very evasive. Residents can be abused sexually as well. Evidence of this can be manifested through bruises on sensitive parts of their bodies, unexplained bleeding of private parts, bloody or torn underwear and sexually transmitted diseases.

Finally, Pennsylvanians should check their loved ones for other signs of neglect including bedsores, lack of medical aids like walkers and medications, inadequate hygiene and unexplained weight loss. When Pennsylvanians suspect neglect or abuse, or when they suspect that it has lead to their loved one's death, they have the option to file legal claims against the abusive party.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Cues that may signal elder abuse," Accessed on Nov. 3, 2014

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