The neglect and abuse of the elderly is a pandemic in the United States. According to The National Center on Elder Abuse, every year an estimated two to five million elderly Americans are neglected or abused. Those who reside in nursing homes are particularly at risk of being neglected or abused. Alarmingly, those who are stricken with dementia are the most likely to be a victim of nursing home abuse. Verbal abuse is reportedly the most common type of abuse that dementia patients suffer from, and though physical abuse and neglect are less prominent, these forms of abuse occur and are serious.
Why Are Dementia Patients More At Risk of Nursing Home Abuse?
As dementia patients lose their cognitive abilities, they become more dependent on their caregivers. Because of communication challenges, their loss of capacity and their loss of memory, these patients are the most at risk for neglect, as well as mental, verbal, physical and financial abuse.
Why Do Caregivers Target Dementia Patients?
This is a challenging question to answer. However, it is believed that some aggressors target those who suffer from dementia because they understand that these individuals lack the ability to communicate their experiences or do not recall their experiences. Other caregivers who neglect or abuse dementia patients may not initially intend to harm those they are giving care. The physical and emotional strain that is often involved in providing care for these patients can be very taxing, and out of frustration, these caregivers neglect or abuse their patients.
What are the Signs of Physical Abuse or Neglect?
There are many signs that may indicate that a dementia patient may be a victim of nursing home abuse. These symptoms include:
- Increased and unexplained bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns or any other type of physical harm
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased lethargy
- The sudden and rapid onset of new health problems
- Increased mood swings, including violence and sadness
- Reclusive behavior
- A rapid increase in the side effects of dementia itself
What are the Signs of Verbal Abuse?
Though they may be less evident than the signs of physical abuse or neglect, there are definite indicators of verbal abuse. These symptoms include:
- Low self-esteem
- Failure to make eye contact
- Fear of speaking
- Increased rage
- Altered sleep patterns
- Altered eating habits
What are the Signs of Financial Abuse?
The signs of financial abuse are pretty obvious and include:
- Increased transactions on an account
- Sudden and unexplained decrease in funds
- Checks being issued to a particular caregiver
If you suspect that your elderly loved one with dementia is suffering from any abuse or neglect, immediate action is necessary to prevent further damage. Speak with the supervisor at the nursing home facility and express your concerns. Seeking legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in nursing home abuse can also be beneficial.
If you believe that your loved one is a victim of physical abuse by his or her caregivers, a nursing home negligence attorney can help determine the best course of action to take. Contact The Bongiorno Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call us at 516-741-4170.
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