Senior citizens who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other conditions that cause cognitive impairment are especially vulnerable to all types of abuse and neglect in care facilities. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this abuse are often those whose job it is to care for them.
Often, these seniors don’t even realize that they’re suffering from abuse – whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional and/or financial. Even if they do realize it and try to tell their loved ones, they may not be believed, since paranoia is a common symptom of dementia.
Don’t ignore these signs of potential abuse
Most families are alert to concerning injuries like bruises, broken bones, cuts and bedsores. However, there are other red flags that a loved one is being neglected or abused. These include:
- Refusal or hesitancy by staff members to leave someone alone with family
- Bruises around ankles and wrists (that are possible evidence of restraints being used)
- Bloody or torn underwear
- Wearing inappropriate clothing for the season or clothing that’s not washed or is inside-out
It’s also wise to watch for changes in personality including withdrawal, fearfulness or agitation for no apparent reason. This can indicate that they’re being verbally, emotionally or sexually abused.
Financial abuse is all too common
That’s why if your loved one is in a care facility, it’s usually best not to give them access to cash, checks, credit cards, ATM/debit cards or anything else that can be stolen or copied. They typically shouldn’t receive benefit checks in their facility either. It’s too easy for them to become the victims of identity theft and plain old theft.
Likely, you or someone in your family has assumed responsibility for your elderly loved one’s accounts and other financial assets and for paying their bills for them. However, you should still keep an eye on all of their account activity and have alerts set up as an added precaution to help ensure that no one is making unauthorized withdrawals or purchases.
If you learn that a loved one has suffered any type of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other long-term-care facility, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to help you seek justice and compensation.