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Emotional, financial and physical abuse harm elderly patients

Emotional, physical and financial abuse are all things to watch out for if your loved one is aging. There is never a time when any kind of abuse is acceptable. It doesn't matter if a nurse is overtired, a patient has been difficult or an aid believes that the patient is giving them access to their money, no one should take advantage of or harm anyone in their care.

The most obvious form of elder abuse is physical abuse, since it can leave scars, bruising, lacerations, bed sores and other obvious signs. Of course, the elderly are more prone to falls and bumps and bruises, so you can't jump to conclusions. However, if these injuries happen often, it's time to step in and start asking questions.

How can you recognize financial abuse?

Another form of abuse is financial abuse. It's not always easy to identify, but a good way to stay updated on your loved one's finances is to have access to them yourself. If you notice unusual amounts coming out at ATMs or expenditures that were not approved, then it's time to look into who has access to the accounts. If your loved one is not in the right mental state to have access to finances, you can ask a court to give you guardianship or ask the caregiver to keep a better eye on your loved one's finances.

How can you identify emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is difficult to identify, but it's not impossible. If your loved one is well enough to do so, they might tell you about unusual actions taken by nurses, screaming matches or arguments. You should also monitor the medications your loved one is given, since medical abuse could lead to emotional abuse by drugging your loved one to keep them calm or easy to work with.

People who can't tell you they're being abused may show other signs, like quivering or backing away when you approach. They may seem depressed or reclusive as well. Sometimes, they'll have panic attacks or seem to have a change in personality.

What should you do if you feel abuse has occurred?

It is wise to talk to the nurses and nursing home director, the assisted-living facility or others who are involved in the care of your loved one. Be honest, and look into the situation. Your attorney can also help you put together the facts to start a case.

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