When someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia lives in assisted living or a nursing home, they may become vulnerable to bruising, falling, wandering into unsafe areas, or forgetting their physical limitations.
But if your older adult can’t remember how they broke their hip, hit their head, or suffered an injury, you might wonder if it was truly an accident or if nursing home abuse was involved.
If a nursing home failed to properly care for your older adult, you may be able to file a lawsuit to cover your parent’s medical costs and receive compensation for their pain and suffering.
If it’s determined that your older adult was abused, an attorney can help you report it to the proper authorities and make sure their rights are protected.
Use these tips to find out how the injury happened, identify signs of elder abuse, how to know if the nursing home was at fault, and what to do if nursing home abuse is a real possibility.
5 steps to find out how the injury happened
If your older adult can’t recall how an injury occurred, you may need to investigate on your own. Here are 5 steps that help you find out what happened.
1. Ask around
Ask other residents if they saw anything, especially if your parent has a roommate.
2. Request a care plan meeting
Meet with the Administrator and Director of Nursing to bring attention to the situation and determine how it occurred.
3. Contact the local ombudsman
If you’re not getting appropriate answers, report the incident to your state’s elder abuse ombudsman or the state agency that regulates nursing homes or assisted living communities.
4. Check for security footage
If the accident took place in a common area, a security camera may have captured it.
Note that private facilities aren’t legally obligated to share footage unless required by local authorities or a court order.
5. Have a doctor examine them
Your older adult’s physician can also do a physical exam to help identify possible causes of the injury and whether it seems to have been caused by abuse or if it was more likely an accident.
Look for common signs of elder abuse
If this isn’t the first unexplained injury your older adult has suffered, don’t rule out the possibility of elder abuse.
More than a third of people with dementia are psychologically or physically abused by their caregivers.
Warning signs of elder abuse include:
- Unusual injuries – If bruises are large or in odd places like on the face, neck, upper back, or chest, investigate further. Also look out for burns or indications of physical restraint.
- Severe injuries – A serious injury, like a broken bone, without an explanation of how it happened could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Skin lesions – Bed sores, ulcers, or pressure sores are obvious signs that your older adult isn’t being properly cared for.
- Malnutrition – Sudden weight loss, dehydration, or bowel impaction (often caused by dehydration or insufficient fiber), could mean that your parent is malnourished.
- Unsanitary conditions – Soiled clothing, dirty linens, or evidence that your older adult is being forced to lie in bodily waste are also clear signs of abuse.