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Changes in Behavior (Fearfulness or Withdrawal)

If your loved one’s behavior changes suddenly while residing in a nursing home, this may indicate abuse or neglect. Even when a patient suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and cannot communicate well, look for changes in appetite, excessive crying, inappropriate or dangerous behavior, withdrawal from favorite activities or people, or fearfulness, as these can all be signs of nursing home neglect or abuse. Common forms of abuse include physical, emotional or sexual trauma, unnecessary use of chemical or physical restraints, malnutrition and dehydration and gross neglect in caring adequately for the patient’s daily needs.

Know how to recognize the physical and emotional signs of abuse. Pay attention if your loved one exhibits behavioral changes or reports abuse to you.

If You See Behavioral Changes

Your loved one may be unwilling or unable to communicate abuse or neglect. The elderly are at the mercy of caregivers and may fear retribution or be too ashamed to admit the abuse has taken place. In many cases, a resident is simply unable to describe what has happened. Sadly, others may not even realize they have been abused.

Take these actions, if you suspect abuse:

  • Talk to caregivers. Pay attention to their body language, and observe how they care for your loved one. Get to know the caregivers by name. Keep notes regarding your visits with your loved one.
  • Talk to the other residents, especially a roommate and their family members. Get to know your loved one’s roommate by name, and get their family’s phone number so that if you need to contact them you can. They can be a great source of information.
  • Make surprise visits. Vary your schedule to observe your loved one’s treatment at different times of the day.
  • Listen to conversations between caregivers for clues to attitudes about patient care.

Most importantly, if you suspect nursing home abuse has occurred, contact the Arizona nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Cullan & Cullan today to schedule your no-cost consultation. We serve clients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and all of Arizona.


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