Types and Signs of Abuse


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Many people think that if their loved one is being abused, they will easily be able to find out. But there are a lot of factors that go into abuse, and many different types of abuse that an elderly person might face. Because you are not in the home 24/7, and your loved one might be afraid to speak out, it is easy for abuse to fly under the radar. In this article, I will talk about some of the major types of abuse that a nursing home resident might face. In addition, I will discuss some basic signs of abuse to help you spot it and get assistance for your loved one.

Physical Abuse and Signs

Physical abuse is one of the most well known types of abuse. It is also one of the easier types of abuse to recognize. Physical abuse is defined by any unwanted physical contact that is intentional. This might include punching, hitting, pinching, and other physical actions intended to harm another person.

If you visit the nursing home regularly, you should be able to spot physical abuse. This is because, unlike some other types of abuse, physical abuse usually leaves a physical trail. Look out for these signs if you suspect physical abuse:

  • Physical injuries such as scratches, bruises, broken bones, etc.
  • The inability to explain these injuries by nursing home staff, or contradictory stories.
  • Changes in your loved one’s demeanor (ex. Sudden depression or aggression).
  • Fear of a certain staff member.  

Emotional Abuse and Signs

Emotional abuse is defined as any intentional act designed to lower another person’s self esteem. Emotional abuse can be harder to identify than physical or sexual abuse, because there are not physical results. The results are psychological. Emotional abuse might include harassment, humiliation, insults, derogatory comments, threats, or purposefully ignoring a nursing home resident. If you suspect emotional abuse, look for signs such as:

  • Behavioral changes, such as depression or aggression.
  • Lower self esteem.
  • Mood swings.
  • Sudden disinterest in things that they used to enjoy.
  • Bullying other people.

Sexual Abuse and Signs

Sexual abuse is a serious form of abuse. It can have both physical and emotional effects on a person. Many times, the elderly are subject to sexual abuse because of their limited ability to fight back. Sadly, some people with dementia are victims of sexual abuse because of the fact that they likely won’t remember their attack. Signs and symptoms of abuse can be similar to those for physical and mental abuse. In addition, watch out for injuries to the genitals or STDs.

Financial Abuse and Signs

Some people are financially taken advantage of in nursing homes. This might include:

  • Bank fraud.
  • Coercion into signing certain documents.
  • Investment fraud.
  • Forged signatures.
  • Stolen identity.
  • Stolen possessions.

Again, the elderly are oftentimes victims because they might not have the mental capabilities to realize what is happening or to fight back. Watch out for these signs of abuse:

  • Additions to signature cards.
  • Unnecessary subscriptions to services and goods.
  • Missing possessions.
  • Large withdrawals from bank accounts.
  • Changes in financial condition.
  • Changes to a Will.

The fact that you have to watch out for abuse in a nursing home is terrible. Unfortunately, it is a reality for some people who live in nursing homes. By being aware of certain types of abuse, you can hopefully catch it early if your loved one is a victim. To take action against a perpetrator, contact my office.

Free Resources for Families

Finding the right information to help your family can be overwhelming. My articles focus on the most common questions that I hear from my clients who are seeking help for an elderly loved one. Check out these articles to have your questions answered and to protect your loved one. For more information, join my newsletter or download my free guide to Connecticut nursing home abuse below. 

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