The quality of nursing and retirement homes varies, just like anything else in society. Some nursing homes are beacons of compassion; a safe harbor where our loved ones can live out their twilight years in comfort and peace. But too often we hear of elder abuse: abusive nursing staff, deteriorating facilities, and unsanitary living conditions.

Not only is it disheartening to hear of such reports, for the families of these residents it is horrifying to discover what their parents or grandparents are going through. Families wonder why on earth their relative didn't tell them what was going on. However, it's important to understand that sometimes their parent or grandparent has no idea that they are being abused or neglected; other times, they are too scared to speak up.

If you suspect something is not right at the nursing facility keep an eye out for red flags. Visit the nursing facility without notifying your loved one or nursing staff ahead of time. Often times staff cover up abuse during normal visit hours, so try to visit early in the morning or late in the evening.

Keep an eye out for anything unusual. Messy rooms can be signs of abuse, but take note of blood or mysterious stains on your loved one's sheets or clothing. Also, not picking up trash or waste in days indicates neglect.

But the most obvious signs of abuse will be concerning your loved one themselves. Your loved one may outright complain of mistreatment. If so, take it as fact and consider talking to an elder abuse attorney immediately. Otherwise, look out for signs like broken bones, burns, unexplained bruises, or deep cuts. Take these injuries seriously, and be critical of explanations by the staff. The reason your loved one is in a nursing home is so these things don't happen.

There are other physical signs that are noticeable after repeated visits, too. Frequent bedsores or infections, hair loss, dramatic weight gain or weight loss, or a steady decline in health overall are red flags that something is wrong. Ask your loved one about these symptoms, and consider speaking to an attorney.

Finally, watch out for changes in behavior, emotional health, and spending. Watch how they interact with staff or if they act differently when staff is nearby. Whispering or talking in a low voice when a nurse walks by should alert you to a potential problem. Also, check on your loved ones savings to be sure there aren't any unusual transactions and keep an eye out for missing personal belongings or items.

Elder abuse needs to be taken seriously and addressed immediately. Our loved ones should not be living out their final years in agony, fear, or neglect.

For more signs or information on types of abuse, check out:

http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/faq/index.aspx

Lee & Lee P.S. understands how devastating elder abuse can be. Please call us if you suspect your loved ones are being mistreated or abused. We'll go over your case and advise you on your legal options moving forward.

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