Matthew C. Minner | December 9, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse
Dementia patients are vulnerable to abuse. It’s an unsettling and disappointing fact. On top of the many challenges these individuals face, they may be unable to report or even recognize when they are treated poorly.
Abuse can happen at home or in a care setting. As a loved one, this is a difficult reality to face. But there are many steps you can take to protect nursing home residents from abuse.
Today, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the abuse of nursing home residents with dementia and how to prevent it.
What Makes a Dementia Patient Vulnerable?
Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are more common in elderly people. Most cases of dementia occur in those who are over the age of 65.
People in this age group are already vulnerable because:
- They are often physically weaker than their caregivers
- They could be socially isolated
- They may be financially and physically dependent on caregivers
These are some of the reasons why elder abuse is so common. Unfortunately, as many as five million Americans in this age group are abused each year. Isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has likely worsened these situations.
Add dementia to these conditions and a loved one can become even more vulnerable. When a person with dementia is abused, they are often unable to remember the event long enough to report it.
What Types of Abuse Should You Watch for?
When you think of abuse, you may envision bruises, cuts, or welts. While physical injuries are one type of abuse, there are many situations to be aware of, including:
Physical abuse happens when someone intentionally inflicts pain or injury on a victim.
Emotional abuse may include anything from insults to harassment, intimidation, verbal assaults, and threats.
Financial abuse is one of the most common types of mistreatment. It happens when a person withholds or misuses a victim’s financial resources in a way that is detrimental to the victim.
Neglectful abuse happens when a caregiver or provider fails to provide the victim with necessities like clothing, shelter, food, or medical care.
Willful deprivation is similar to neglectful abuse, but it requires greater intent.
Many dementia patients are unable to give consent to sexual activity. Touching, fondling, or sexual acts can lead to serious trauma for these victims.
Unfortunately, dementia patients are also vulnerable to discriminatory abuse based on their race, disability, or religious beliefs.
What Are the Signs of Abuse?
Now that you know the types of abuse, it’s important to become familiar with the warning signs. A single sign on its own will not always indicate an abusive situation. But if you notice a pattern of problems, it’s time to investigate the issue.
Watch for the following signs of abuse in your elderly loved one:
- Bedsores, poor hygiene, or drastic weight loss
- Bruises, abrasions, burns, or broken bones
- Sudden changes in their finances
- Sudden changes in their emotional state
- Tense or strained relationships
If you notice bruises in unusual places, like the pelvic area, that could be an additional cause for concern.
What Can I Do If I Suspect Abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse, you can call the Alzheimer’s Association for support. This organization can connect you with state or local resources.
Even if you cannot prove that the abuse is happening, you can request an investigation.
When is it Time to Call an Attorney?
It’s best to call an attorney if you want to seek justice for an abused loved one or believe they deserve compensation for an injury sustained from negligent care.