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Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse Affecting Dementia Patients


Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to identify even in older adults who have the capacity to identify dangerous behavior or to report negligence in a skilled nursing facility. Indeed, many seniors fear that they will face retribution if they name an accuser, or that reporting any kind of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse will worsen their day-to-day lives in the facility where they reside. To be clear, there are many different reasons that nursing home neglect goes unreported, including the fact that elderly nursing home residents are too fearful to make a report. These kinds of problems are amplified in nursing home residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Not only may it be difficult for such residents to make a report of abuse or neglect, but they may lack the capacity to do so.

As the Alzheimer’s Association explains, elder abuse can occur anywhere, but “people with dementia are especially vulnerable because the disease may prevent them from reporting the abuse or recognizing it.” In addition, seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia “may fall prey to strangers who take advantage of their cognitive impairment.” When you have an elderly loved one with dementia in a nursing home, it is particularly important to be able to recognize warning signs of abuse and to initiate an investigation. The following are some common signs of abuse in dementia patients that you should take seriously and should report.

Any Unexplained Injuries or Physical Marks

If you notice any bruises, pressure marks, cuts, bleeding, or other signs of an injury and there is no clear and obvious explanation, it is worth investigating further. These physical signs can be symptoms of physical or sexual abuse.

Signs of Agitation or Withdrawal

While it can be difficult to know if an elderly loved one with dementia is behaving in a more agitated manner than usual, it is always worth it to report your concerns if you notice increased evidence of agitation or withdrawal. These could be signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.

Missing Money From an Account or a New Authorized User

Dementia patients are often particularly vulnerable to elder financial abuse. In addition to reporting your concerns about any missing money or new authorized users on an account, you should speak with a lawyer about guardianships and legal incompetency to ensure that nobody can take advantage of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.

New Medications That do Not Correspond to a Specific Condition

Patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be subjected to dangerous off-label uses of antipsychotic medications. Keep an eye on your elderly loved one’s medications, and seek advice if you notice new medications that do not correspond to a specific diagnosis or condition.

Seek Advice from a New York Nursing Home Negligence Attorney

If you have any concerns at all about elder abuse or nursing home negligence, it is better to be safe than sorry. One of the experienced New York nursing home negligence lawyers at our firm can speak with you today about your case and can help to determine whether you should move forward with a report or filing a claim against the nursing home. We know that these situations can be extremely sensitive. We want to do everything we can to ensure that your elderly loved one is safe and that any responsible parties are held accountable. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC to learn more about how we can assist you.

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