Approximately one in 10 Americans over 60 years old experience some form of elder abuse. Whether it's verbal, physical or neglect, older adults are targeted as victims, and only one out of 14 cases are reported to the authorities.
With most elder abuse cases, family members are the perpetrators. However, 40 percent of cases show abuse from a stranger or caretaker, which makes nursing homes the perfect habitat for abusers. It's crucial to know the signs of elder abuse and how to report it.
Common signs of elder abuse
Nursing homes are supposed to be places where your loved one is safe. However, abuse or negligence can still occur. Some of the symptoms of elder abuse include:
- Bedsores and ulcers
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Unexplained fractures or broken bones
- Medication errors
- Unexplained visits to the emergency room
- Excessive isolation
- Personal hygiene issues
- Weight loss
- Increased confusion
You might notice a change in attitude, personality or mental state during abuse, so start a conversation with your loved one about their routine in the nursing home. Encourage them to be open about any experiences they have.
Report if you suspect abuse
If you believe your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you can report it on their behalf to Pennsylvania's Elder Abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505. Reporters can remain anonymous and have legal protection against retaliation, discrimination and criminal or civil prosecution.
If there is immediate danger, call 911.
It can be distressing to suspect abuse in your loved one's nursing home, but you can act on your suspicions and report it to the hotline or Adult Protective Services. Reporting the issue helps stop abuse quickly and effectively.