Most everyone who has a loved one in a nursing home or other type of elder care facility is concerned about the potential for abuse or neglect. However, if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, that concern is likely heightened.
Seniors with dementia are among the most likely to fall prey to abuse because their cognition, memory and grasp of reality can all be severely limited because of their disease. Those who would abuse them – physically, emotionally, sexually or financially — know that they’re likely not to remember what happened. That’s if they even realize they’re being abused. Further, their loved ones may be used to hearing all kinds of stories from them and not take them seriously.
Spotting the signs of abuse
Certainly, obvious physical injuries – even cuts and bruises – should be cause for concern. Even if they’re the result of them bumping into things or getting ahold of something sharp, it means they’re not being watched as carefully as they should be. Bruises on their wrists or ankles should be of particular concern because it could indicate that they’ve been in restraints.
Any of the following could also be signs of abuse:
- Sudden or more regular withdrawal or agitation
- A staff member or other caregiver who won’t leave the room when you visit your loved one
- Torn or bloody underwear
You also want to watch out for missing belongings and certainly for anything missing from their purse or wallet. It’s likely best for them not to have a checkbook or credit and debit cards. They also shouldn’t have their will or other personal documents where someone can access them and potentially get personal data that can be used for identity theft.
If a loved one is being harmed in a nursing home or other facility (or by an in-home caregiver), it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect them. It may be wise to seek legal guidance as well.