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IL abuse lawyerNursing home abuse and neglect are tragically commonplace in Illinois and across the United States. It is difficult to know for sure the exact number of nursing home residents who are victims of abuse because many residents are unable to report the mistreatment they suffer. However, in one study, 44 percent of nursing home residents surveyed reported being abused while living in the facility. If you have a loved one living in a rehabilitation facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home, it is important to be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse Can Leave Physical and Mental Scars

It is hard to imagine someone hitting, pinching, kicking, or otherwise intentionally harming an elderly or disabled person, but physical abuse does happen in some long-term care facilities. Some nursing home staff become frustrated or angry when residents do not comply with orders or are otherwise obstinate. They may intentionally hurt the resident as a form of “punishment.” Unexplained bruises, lacerations, or other signs of trauma, as well as psychological symptoms like fear and anxiety, may be signs that a resident is begin physically assaulted. In some cases, the perpetrators of physical abuse are other residents at the facility.

Mental or Psychological Abuse Can Be Just as Harmful as Physical Abuse

Psychological, emotional, or mental abuse can be just as damaging to a resident’s wellbeing as physical violence. Examples of emotional abuse include mocking a resident, intentionally scaring a resident, embarrassing a resident, disallowing reasonable privacy, and other actions intended to demoralize or upset a resident. Recognizing mental abuse can often be tricky. Residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other cognitive illnesses may become confused and accuse innocent staff of abusive or threatening behavior. However, it is essential to fully investigate any claim of mistreatment.

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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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