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Questions about Signs of Abuse and Neglect

What should I look for if I suspect physical abuse is occurring?

Look for unexplained bruises, cuts, or other skin irregularities. If your loved one has sustained an injury such as a sprain or fracture, make sure to ask the nursing home staff for full details on the incident. If they cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction, or if they are evasive in any way, then you may have more reason to be suspicious. Unexplained weight loss, bed sores, increased withdrawal from social activities, and other behavioral changes also may indicate physical abuse.

What are some signs of verbal abuse?

Verbal abuse can be difficult to detect, especially in the cognitively-impaired resident. Sudden unexplained changes in weight, withdrawal from social activities, aloofness, depression, and other negative behavioral changes often indicate the presence of verbal abuse. Engage the resident’s caregivers in conversation about the resident and notice the types of things they say about the resident. Take note of their body language as well. Talk with other residents and see what kind of information they may have.

What are some signs of sexual abuse?

As with verbal abuse, this can be very difficult to detect. Some instances of sexual abuse go unreported due to fear and embarrassment. Look for signs of depression, poor hygiene or changes in appearance, nervousness, anxiety, and other negative behavioral changes.

What are some things I can do to help prevent abuse and neglect from occurring?

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, visit him/her often and at different times of the day and days of the week. This will give you a more complete sense of how your loved one is being treated day-to-day. Be attentive to every detail of your loved one’s environment. Talk with nurses and other employees, and engage other residents in conversation. Other residents will likely be very forthcoming about any environmental or personnel issues that might be going on at the facility.

What if I suspect abuse or neglect but do not have any evidence?

You should contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney immediately. Though difficult, it may be important for you to move your loved one to a different, safer nursing home. It is important that all evidence be preserved. This may mean that you have to hire a different doctor to exam your loved one who may order medical tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, blood work, or other lab tests to prove the neglect and/or abuse.

If you or a loved one reside in a nursing home in Arizona, and believe you might have a nursing home abuse and neglect case, please contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Cullan & Cullan today to schedule a no-cost, confidential consultation. Our attorneys are also doctors who will fight for your rights and help get the compensation you deserve.


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