Dementia and Nursing Home Abuse

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may wonder if he or she is getting the very best care. When an elderly loved one begins to pull away, or becomes isolated from friends and family, it is commonly thought to be due to dementia, however, in many instances this behavior is indicative of nursing home abuse.

If your loved one has dementia, he or she is especially vulnerable to abuse. Again, it is critically important to note that oftentimes, when an elderly loved one is being abused physically or emotionally, he or she may show physical signs of abuse, become more forgetful or withdraw from people and activities. It is imperative to recognize and investigate if perhaps something more sinister, such as nursing home abuse is prompting your loved one’s change in behavior.

Dementia vs. Forgetfulness

Slight memory loss is common as we age, but is significantly different than the serious diagnosis of dementia, which can include Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes answering these simple questions will help you determine if your loved one has signs of dementia.

  • Do reminders work? If you are able to set reminders that then prompts someone to remember, this is likely indicative of the normal aging process. If, however, your loved one cannot recall names and dates, and reminders do not work, it could be a sign of early dementia.
  • Can they recall memories? If you are trying to visit with your elderly loved one about a specific memory, and with prompting and even photographs they have no recollection of the memory, it could be a sign of dementia.
  • Is there a repetition of forgetfulness? If your elderly loved one has to ask how to do tasks that should be simple, such as how to use a telephone or forgets information he or she should know, such as a son’s name, then it may be a sign of something more serious such as dementia.
  • Can your loved one perform daily tasks? Your loved one (outside of a physical condition) should be able to understand how to perform simple tasks such as bathing, cleaning, preparing food, paying bills, and dressing. If your elderly loved one simply is unable to understand or remember how to do these simple daily tasks, this may be a sign of dementia, as well.
  • Reaction to stress? If your elderly loved one reacts unexpectedly or strangely under stress or has bizarre out-of-proportion reactions mentally, emotionally, or physically to stress, it could be a sign of dementia.

Dementia and Nursing Home Abuse

Elderly who also suffer from dementia are more susceptible to abuse given their inability to understand what is happening, or remember something has happened to them. They may not be able to recall a traumatic event, yet still experience fear and pain. If you find that your loved one has had unexplained physical injuries such as bruising, cuts, broken bones, malnutrition, dehydration or emotional symptoms of withdrawal or depression, consider whether or not you should investigate the nursing home for abuse.

Contact an Attorney

Your loved one has the absolute right to live in a safe environment. If you suspect or discover that your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect due to their vulnerability, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your loved one’s memory may have faded, but evidence may still be discoverable. Contact the attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein at (216) 861-4211, (440) 946-7656 or online today for your free consultation.

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