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4 Steps to Prevent Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

Update Date: Jul 16, 2019 03:10 PM EDT

Elder abuse affects 5 million seniors per year. Abuse is a loose term, and the term may include being abused financially, sexually, physically or mentally. Some caretakers and even family members may choose to have their loved one alter their will to make them the primary benefactor.

There are also circumstances where an elder is forced into changing their will or even not mentally able to make the decision for themselves.

Protecting against abuse is essential to the mental well-being and lifespan of an elder.

"Residents who suffer injuries from nursing home abuse and neglect have a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to elderly adults who receive proper care. Incidents of mistreatment and neglect have a profoundly negative impact on the physical and emotional well-being of the elderly resident," explains nursing home abuse attorney Matthew Sharp.

Steps family members can take to prevent elder abuse include:

1. Improve Awareness of the Problem

One major report was released that looked at 750 experts, and the one recommendation that was offered to prevent and combat abuse is awareness. Experts recommend that all abuse claims be brought to light, and the experts also recommend that the following be done:

  • Education to make the issue of abuse widely known

  • Research into the area of abuse

  • Policies to help combat abuse

2. Be Present More Often

Leaving a loved one in a nursing home with no visitors is not going to put an end to abuse. You need to be more present in your loved one's life. Visiting often is one way to be able to check for the signs of abuse and prevent any reoccurrence of abuse in the future.

When family members are present more often, their presence can also act as a deterrent against future abuse.

While being more present, take the time to take notes on your loved one. If your loved one is starting to show signs of abuse, write these signs down in your journal. It's also important to take this time to document medications that your loved one is taking.

3. Learn the Signs of Abuse

If family members know the signs of abuse, they can take action to end the abuse. Signs of abuse can include:

  • Bruises

  • Broken bones

  • Withdrawal

  • Quietness

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Fear

Loved ones should always keep an open line of communication with their elderly family members to better determine if abuse is occurring. When abuse does occur, it's important to report it as quickly as possible.

Nursing homes will conduct their own internal investigation into the matter, and the evidence is more likely to be found the sooner the incident is reported.

4. Switch Nursing Homes If Needed

If you're fearful of your loved one being abused, switch nursing homes as quickly as possible. Report the incident to the nursing home. When no action is taken or you continue to notice the signs of abuse, remove your loved one from the home.

The next step is to report the incident to the authorities.

Your report may help prevent future abuse incidents, too.

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