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Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect: What Can You Do?

Are you concerned that a family member is being abused or neglected at a nursing home? Mistreatment at the hands of a caregiver can happen in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. The mistreatment may take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or even financial exploitation. Signs of elder abuse differ but each type of abuse has distinct signs associated with it.

  • Physical abuse can be detected by visible signs on the body, including bruises, scars, sprains, or broken bones. More subtle indications of physical abuse include a fear of certain caregivers.
  • Emotional abuse often accompanies the other types of abuse and can usually be detected by changes in personality or behavior, such as being emotionally agitated or extremely withdrawn. The elder may also exhibit behavior mimicking dementia, such as rocking or mumbling.
  • Neglect can be detected by signs of malnutrition, dehydration, poor hygiene, bed sores, failure to provide prescription medications and unsafe living conditions.
  • Financial exploitation is a more subtle form of abuse, and can be more challenging to notice. Signs of financial exploitation include significant withdrawals from accounts, missing belongings or money, unpaid bills, and unnecessary goods or services.

In Illinois, to report suspected elder mistreatment in a long-term facility or nursing home, call Senior HelpLine at 1-217-524-6911 or toll-free at 1-800-252-8966. Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are available advocates who seek to resolve complaints on behalf of citizens, including nursing home residents who receive long-term care services.

Across the nation, help is available through the Eldercare Locator. Call 1-800-677-1116 for a specially trained operator to refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time (ET).

In Illinois and other states, Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies work with local social service agencies to insure the safety and well-being of elders and adults with disabilities who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected, are unable to take care for themselves or protect themselves from harm. Interventions provided by APS include, but are not limited to:

  • Receiving reports of adults abuse, exploitation or neglect
  • Investigation these reports
  • Case planning, monitoring and evaluation

Simple vigilance and recognition of the signs of abuse and neglect can help save someone you love.

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