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Elder abuse and its warning signs

If you have to face the difficult decision of putting your parent, grandparent, or other elderly relative into a care facility, you are not alone. Countless other residents in Massachusetts and throughout the nation must navigate this situation every day. The process of selecting a facility is one step but the ongoing concerns about the safety of your loved one remains even once a move-in has taken place.

Sadly, too many people in nursing homes are abused and neglected at the hands of those who are supposed to care for this. Abuse may be sexual, physical, or emotional. In addition, patients can be abandoned or neglected. Developing good relationships with your relative's caregivers is important but you should also educate yourself about the signs of potential elder abuse or neglect so that you will know if and when you need to intervene. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging gives some tips on what to look for.

Some abuse can be seen in behavioral or emotional shifts. For example, the person who previously loved having visitors or attending the weekly bingo games and music performances may suddenly refuse to participate in these activities. Uncharacteristic sullenness, signs of depression, and a general withdrawn attitude might signal a problem. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, unpleasant odors, poor hygiene, and other physical cues that are not otherwise explainable may also be indicators of abuse or neglect. Prompt action is important in these situations.

If you would like to learn more about nursing home injuries and what to do when you suspect such abuse, please visit the elder neglect and abuse page on our Massachusetts malpractice website.

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