The Facts About Elder Abuse and How to Spot It

The elderly population in the United States is growing more rapidly now than ever before, and the problem of elder abuse has received increased attention in recent years.

Here are some things that New Mexico residents should know about elder abuse and how to spot it.

In most cases, elder abuse occurs in the home, but abuse of seniors also occurs in institutional settings such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Recent statistics show that about 1.4 million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes, and about 835,200 people live in residential care communities. Unfortunately, overcrowding, understaffing and inadequate training in these facilities can lead to physical and emotional abuse of residents.

When this happens, the families of vulnerable loved ones need to be aware of the legal options for stopping the abuse and holding the responsible parties accountable.

Abuse of vulnerable residents by other residents of long-term care facilities is believed to be more common than physical abuse by staff members.

Residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have a right to live in a safe environment. If a long-term care facility fails to monitor, report or otherwise intervene in abuse committed by another resident, the facility may be held liable for negligence.

What are the signs of elder abuse?

Physical abuse of seniors and other vulnerable adults takes many forms. These may include hitting, kicking, shoving or burning; locking a senior in a room; administering drugs that a senior has not been prescribed; or sexual abuse.

Signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries that happen repeatedly
  • Unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or bleeding
  • Sprained or broken bones
  • Torn clothing
  • The vulnerable adult does not want to see a doctor about the wounds

Because many victims of elder abuse are living with dementia, it can be difficult to determine exactly what the situation is. If you believe your loved one is being harmed due to nursing home negligence or abuse, discuss your concerns with an attorney with experience in handling elder abuse cases.

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