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IL nursing home abuse attorneyIt is hard to believe that someone would ever intentionally harm a nursing home resident. Sadly, nursing home neglect and abuse happens in long-term care facilities across the country. Psychological abuse, mental abuse, and emotional abuse can be especially insidious forms of nursing home abuse. Because so many nursing home residents suffer from cognitive decline, they may be unable to report this mistreatment. Relatives of nursing home residents are often unaware of psychological abuse because it does not result in bruises or other noticeable injuries the way physical abuse typically does. However, there are several warning signs of nursing home mental abuse that you should be watchful for.

Be Vigilant for Changes in Personality and Behavior

If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, he or she may be unable to express or even remember the type of treatment he or she receives from nursing home staff. Because you cannot simply ask the resident about the quality of care he or she is receiving, you will have to look for changes in your loved one’s mood and behavior that could indicate that something is wrong. If the resident cowers, fidgets, or acts nervous when a certain staff member walks into the room, this could be an indication that the resident has suffered abuse at the hands of that staff member. Other signs of mental abuse include:

  • Loss of interest or enthusiasm in things that the resident used to enjoy
  • Unusual behavior such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Increased agitation and irritability
  • Refusal of food and water

Speak to Staff About Your Concerns

If you have noticed changes in your loved one’s behavior or mood, speak to staff about your concerns. Staff should be fully willing to discuss these concerns with you. Staff who are offended or annoyed by questions about a resident’s health may have something to hide. Contradictory statements about a resident’s health or behavior may also be signs of neglect or abuse. If nursing home staff refuse to let you be alone with your loved one, this is a major red flag.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysMost people would agree that nursing home staff have a challenging job. While many nursing home residents are kind, cooperative, and simply want to live their lives as comfortably as possible, sometimes physical and mental health issues cause nursing home residents to act obstinately or aggressively. In some cases, a resident may require sedation through the use of chemical restraints. However, restraining a resident through the use of medication should always be a last resort and should only be used when the resident is a danger to himself, herself, or others.

Sedating Residents with Medication is Regulated By Law

Nursing home staff should never use psychiatric medication to sedate a resident unless the situation absolutely requires it. Sadly, studies show that many nursing home employees are over-administering sedating medication to residents simply for their own convenience. Even worse, some nursing home staff have been caught using restraints as a form of punishment. Not only is this practice immoral, it is also in direct violation of several laws including the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

The Nursing Home Care Act clearly states that “Neither restraints nor confinements shall be employed for the purpose of punishment or for the convenience of any facility personnel.” Furthermore, physical and chemical restrains must only be used when ordered by a physician and the need for restraints must be documented in the resident’s clinical record.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyNursing home residents are often weakened by physical and cognitive illness. This can make them especially vulnerable to abuse. While many nursing home staff members are dedicated, caring individuals, others exploit this vulnerability and take advantage of nursing home residents. When someone lives in a nursing home, they have contact with numerous individuals including nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, nutrition specialists, activity aids, facility administrators, other nursing home residents, and visiting guests. Any of these individuals may attempt to manipulate nursing home residents for their own financial gain.

Nursing Home Financial Abuse

There are many different strategies that unscrupulous people use to illegally obtain money and property from nursing home residents. Sometimes, nursing home staff, other residents, or even guests to the nursing home steal property or money outright. Cash, credit cards, debit cards, checkbooks, or valuable property may be stolen from nursing home resident’s room – especially if the resident has a condition which makes him or her less aware of his or her surroundings.

Another very common form of nursing home resident or elder financial abuse is fraud. Individuals can trick residents into giving them money and property through several means. They may tell a fabricated story to the resident about why they need money, trick the resident into paying nonexistent fees or medical costs, or even convince the resident to include the fraudster’s name in financial accounts or estate planning documents. Some people invent made-up charities or other nonprofit organizations to trick residents into giving them money.  

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