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What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?

Sometimes as family members age, it is no longer safe for them to live alone. They might need assistance with daily chores and caring for themselves, or they might have a medical condition that requires constant care. 

Moving a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility can be a very hard decision to make. Families need to feel confident that the nursing home they choose is clean, safe, and able to provide the important services their loved ones need. Above all else, a family needs to know that the nursing home’s staff will respect their residents and work hard to provide the professional care and support they require.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide extremely valuable services to elderly people living in Colorado. Unfortunately, however, not all of them provide the high level of care that we expect. And, in the worst cases, there can be signs of nursing home abuse such as neglect and physical or emotional harm.

Here at Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman, LLC, we know that nursing home abuse in Colorado is a very real problem. If you currently have a loved one in a nursing home or are making arrangements soon, it’s important to understand the dangers to look out for so you can contact a nursing home abuse attorney.  

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

There are five main types of nursing home abuse—physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of each type of abuse and the telltale signs to watch for. 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes any situation where a nursing home staff member is physically harming a resident. Physical harm can include everything from pushing or shoving to actually hitting a resident. The use of physical restraints as punishment also constitutes physical abuse.

Signs of physical abuse on a nursing home resident may include: 

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or sprains
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • A caregiver not allowing the family to visit the resident by themselves

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

The act of causing pain to a nursing home resident through verbal and nonverbal acts constitutes emotional abuse. This type of abuse ranges from verbal insults and curse words, to isolating a resident from others, or giving them the “silent treatment.” 

Signs of emotional/psychological abuse on a nursing home resident may include: 

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Lack of communication or response

Sexual Abuse

From inappropriate touching to rape, any sexual contact that is not consensual counts as sexual abuse. 

Signs of sexual abuse on a nursing home resident may include: 

  • Torn or bloody underclothing
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
  • Bruising or bleeding in the resident’s private areas

Financial Abuse

This form of abuse occurs when someone illegally takes or uses a nursing home resident’s finances. Financial abuse can be anything from stealing money out of a purse or wallet, forging a resident’s signature on a check, or deceiving a resident into signing some type of contract or will.

Signs of financial abuse of a nursing home resident may include:

  • Unexplained withdrawals of large amounts of money from bank accounts
  • Unauthorized use of a resident’s debit or credit card
  • Additional names added to a resident’s bank signature card
  • Missing valuables or financial resources

Neglect

Abusive neglect occurs when a nursing home or assisted living facility fails to provide the care promised to your loved one and does not keep them safe and healthy. Examples of neglect in a nursing home include failure to follow a resident’s care plan, failure to provide adequate food or water to a resident, failure to keep them clean, or failure to provide the medications they require. 

Signs of neglect of a nursing home resident may include:

  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration
  • Bed sores
  • Frequent falls
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Soiled bedding
  • Leaving resident alone for an extended period of time
  • Medication errors

What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse in Colorado? 

The state of Colorado protects the rights of those residing in nursing homes and assisted care facilities through Title 25 Health § 25-1-120: Nursing facilities—rights of patients. Under this statute, all nursing homes have to make and adopt a public statement declaring the rights and responsibilities they provide to their residents. 

These rights and responsibilities include: 

  • Treating residents courteously, fairly and with dignity
  • Keeping residents safe from physical and mental abuse
  • Upholding residents’ civil and religious liberties
  • Informing residents and their loved ones of any medical condition or treatment changes
  • Providing a copy of the facility’s rules, regulations, and responsibilities to their residents

If you see any signs of nursing home abuse and suspect your loved one has been harmed, take action immediately. Here are the actions to take:

  • Do not wait—call the police or 911 to report your suspicions. 
  • Make a formal report to the Colorado Adult Protective Services
  • Compile any evidence you can about the abuse, including photographs or video evidence, verbal or written testimonies from the resident or any eyewitnesses, material evidence such as damaged clothing, and any medical records. 
  • If you have any communication about your concerns with nursing home administrators or staff, make sure to save copies of all the emails and any written reports they send you.
  • Call an expert Colorado nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to find out your loved one’s rights and legal options. A nursing home abuse attorney can also walk you through the process of filing lawsuits for damages. 

The National Center on Elder Abuse also offers a variety of Colorado helplines, hotlines, and other resources for help with elder and nursing home abuse. 

Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Colorado

Making the decision to place a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility is hard. No one wants to think their loved one faces abuse or neglect under someone else’s care, but sadly it can happen. If you see any signs of nursing home abuse or neglect in your loved one, call Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman, LLC today at 303-860-1331 or contact us online. We have more than 30 years of experience in Colorado nursing home abuse and neglect law and we work to hold facilities accountable for breaking the trust of residents and their families. 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash