Often, families of nursing home residents ask, “Is that abuse?” The answer obviously depends on the situation. However, if you feel as though the care and treatment being given to your loved one falls below an acceptable standard, it is always best to investigate it further.
The second question is usually, “Am I overreacting?” You are not overreacting. Abuse and neglect are unacceptable and illegal. There is no better advocate for an individual in a nursing home than their family and friends. When a person enters a nursing home they are entering into a contract with that nursing home which indicates that they will pay for care and in return receive appropriate care and treatment. A person living in a nursing home has given up a large amount of autonomy and they may be dependent on the nursing home staff for all of their physical, medical, nutritional and emotional needs. The resident has essentially made the facility their home. As such, we cannot accept, condone or overlook mistreatment. The only way to try and dissuade these inappropriate actions is to hold nursing homes and their staff accountable.
There are numerous signs and symptoms of abuse which can include but are by no means limited to: broken bones, falls, bedsores/pressure ulcers, unexplained injuries, lack of proper hygiene, bruises/contusions, intimidation, anxiety regarding treatment, unexplained reactions to certain caregivers and fear. If you witness any of these signs of potential abuse you should consider investigating it further and taking appropriate action if you believe abuse and/or neglect are occurring.