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This is what you should look for if you suspect elder abuse

Recognizing nursing home abuse is the first step to helping your loved one get out of a dangerous situation. Here are a few common questions about nursing home abuse and neglect that you may be interested in knowing the answers to.

What is abuse?

Abuse is defined as being any sexual, financial, emotional or physical injury caused by a person against another.

What makes abuse different than neglect?

Neglect is different because it's an act of failing to provide for a person's necessities or refusing to provide those necessities. For example, a patient who is neglected may not be receiving meals on time, may not have clean clothing or could be suffering from a lack of medical care.

How can I recognize physical abuse?

Sometimes, physical abuse is hidden well. For example, bruising under a shirt or under undergarments are hard to see. However, it's more likely that you'll begin to notice odd changes over time, like suddenly seeing that your loved one has more cuts or scrapes than usual, has fallen several times or has broken glasses or personal items. For the elderly, it's most common to see a change in their behavior as abuse worsens.

What kinds of behavior changes should I look for?

Look for changes like sudden aggression or depression as a first sign that your loved one is being abused. He or she may also tell you directly, so you should always address those complaints, even if you think your loved one may not have been injured. Those with dementia and other mental health concerns may suffer for a long while if their initial complaints are not heeded. Your attorney can help you pursue a claim if you find that the complaints are substantiated.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, "Detecting and Reporting Abuse," accessed March 02, 2017

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