The not-so-obvious signs of nursing home abuse

Spotting the signs of nursing home abuse in Maryland may not always be easy to do.

Someone who has suffered nursing home abuse in a Maryland facility may have bruises, scratches and broken bones. These are some of the more obvious signs that something is amiss. But what about the not-so-obvious symptoms? It is possible for residents to experience abuse without manifesting physical marks that are easy to see.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, various studies estimate that around 10 percent of elderly adults have experienced some type of abuse. However, it is widely held that the wrongdoing is underreported. Family members should look out for the following signs:

Behavioral changes

Moving into an adult care facility is a dramatic change for many people and could bring about an array of emotions, such as sadness or a longing for the way things used to be. Some behavioral changes - such as becoming withdrawn or developing a sudden lack of interest in regular activities - may mean something bigger is going on. People who are experiencing abuse in a nursing home may exhibit signs of depression, or they could become aggressive.

It should be noted that simply because someone has a change in behavior does not necessarily mean that abuse has taken place. However, it should be considered a warning sign that bears a deeper look.

Strained relationships

People visiting their loved ones in these facilities should pay attention to the way they interact with staff members. In some cases of abuse, the resident may be especially tense or nervous around certain staff. Or, relationships that were once good may appear strained. The resident may even start lashing out against certain staff unexpectedly.

Signs of neglect

Neglect in nursing homes is a serious issue. This takes place when staff members have stopped caring for the resident in some way. The signs of neglect could include the following:

  • Weight loss, due to a lack of feeding
  • Dirty clothes or diapers
  • Bedsores

People experiencing neglect may be missing the devices they need, such as a cane or hearing aid. If staff members are not assisting residents when they need it - such as with going to the restroom or getting dressed - it may be considered neglect.

Reporting elder abuse

If people suspect elder abuse has taken place in a nursing home setting, the Maryland Department of Aging urges loved ones to contact the long-term care ombudsman and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Health Office of Health Care Quality. These agencies conduct investigations into reports and take the appropriate action, such as helping the victim find a new, safe space and holding the abusers accountable.

People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Maryland.