Most of us are not experienced in assessing a concerning situation at a parent’s nursing home. So, we often wonder and worry. If you feel surprised that your parent is not doing better at their new nursing home, you can do something to help.

A place to start is knowing if someone in the nursing home may be abusing your loved one.

Finding answers will help reveal your next step in improving the situation. Remember that the staff of a nursing home should welcome all your questions until you are satisfied that everything makes sense.

Answers are sometimes unexpected 

Keeping your eyes and mind open to possibilities is essential in diagnosing and catching abuse. It can take many forms and happen nearly anywhere. The victim, as well as the abuser, can be someone you might never expect.

Even elderly people living on their own in their own house or apartment can suffer abuse, typically from family members or neighbors. In nursing homes, residents themselves sometimes abuse other residents.

Kinds of abuse and signs to watch for

Indiana has a helpful page listing some types of abuse and some of the signs you might look for in your loved one and others at the home. Among their other hints and suggestions are:

  • For physical abuse, look for a lower response to pain and for injuries not reported to you right away.
  • For emotional abuse, look for emotionally withdrawn, physically isolated or fearful patients.
  • For neglect, look for pressure sores, unexplained weight changes, poor dental health, unclean clothes or poor personal hygiene. A neglected patient having trouble feeding themselves may unexpectedly ask you for food.
  • For theft of pain medication, look for used-looking or damaged pain patches, impaired caretakers, and reported changes in the amount of pain medication the patient gets.

Indiana urges everyone to dial 911 or the state Attorney General (800-382-1039) if they see signs of abuse.

People often will not report their own abuse

Experts say that contacting authorities should not be the last resort. Abuse can and routinely does cause tremendous psychological and physical pain and disability.

Consider what it may mean when abuse goes unreported. Your loved one would be unlikely to be a facility’s only abused patient. It may never be possible to know how many elderly people you might also protect when you help your own family member