The decision to place a loved one in an assisted care facility can be difficult, and when you suspect the staff in their facility may be abusing them, it can be devastating. However, you may find that the staff and management either ignore your questions or brush them off as untrue, yet you have noticed signs that something is wrong.
It can be difficult to know whether our elders are being treated well in nursing homes, especially if they are suffering from dementia or are otherwise unable to communicate. However, there are common signs of abuse we should be wary of. A camera may give you the answers you need to prove abuse or neglect.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There are several things to look for that could indicate your loved one is being abused in the nursing home. Keep in mind that abuse may not mean physical injuries, but it could be psychological, emotional or even neglect. Some of the signs your loved one is being abused include:
- Bed sores
- Broken bones
- Chronic infections
- Desire for isolation
- Extreme emotions
- Fear of being touched
- Head injuries
- Heavily medicated
- Injuries sustained while in bed
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Reluctance to speak in front of staff
- Repeated falls
- Repetitive movement like sucking, rocking, or biting
- Sudden or unexplained death
- Withdrawn or non-communicative
- Wounds such as cuts, bruises or welts
Steps to Take if You Suspect Abuse
The first thing to do if you suspect abuse is to talk to your loved one and see if they will tell you what is happening. If they tell you they are being abused, believe them and reach out to staff and management. If staff and management are not responsive to your complaints, contact the Department of Aging in your city, county or state to file a report. You may also file a police report if you believe the abuse is severe and especially if there is evidence of elder sexual assault.
Each state has its own regulations regarding the installation of cameras in nursing homes. In some states, you are permitted to install a camera without notifying the nursing home that you have done so, while other states require that you inform the staff that a camera is in the room.
One reason a state may have regulations against cameras is that patients in nursing homes often require caregiving tasks that are performed in the room, such as bathing and dressing,
and, because that may violate the resident’s privacy, cameras are not permitted.
Many states do allow families to install cameras. This allows the family to monitor their loved one’s well-being and alert the facility should they see something wrong since staff is not usually in the room with the resident 24 hours each day.
In addition to allowing families to protect their loved one from abuse, cameras in the room can have other benefits. Today, cameras have microphones and speakers that allow family members to talk to their loved one even if they live far away.
Cameras can also help nursing home staff when a resident accuses them of wrongdoing. For example, if something is missing in the resident’s room, they may accuse a staff member of taking the item. The footage can then be used to prove that the item was simply misplaced and not stolen.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home and think they are being abused, contact an attorney to see how they can help. If you have been told you cannot place a camera in the room, a lawyer may also be able to help convince the nursing home of the benefits.