When Oregon families choose a nursing home in which to place their loved one, they place exceptional trust in the institution to care for and protect their family member. Unfortunately, the reality is that some nursing homes or individual employees do not take this responsibility as seriously as they should, and nursing home abuse is more common than it should be. If you have a loved one who is being cared for at a nursing home or assisted living facility and you fear they are being abused, there are some signs you should watch for.

According to U.S. News, one way to pinpoint nursing home abuse is to watch for marked physical or emotional changes. If the person seems unable to function like normal, has become uncommunicative or withdrawn or lacks the desire to participate in previously enjoyable activities, it may be a sign that something is wrong.

Emotional abuse is often characterized by withdrawal, agitation, loss of appetite or weight, fear or sudden changes in sleep pattern or mood. Physical abuse can be spotted in the form of pressure ulcers, bruises and unexplained skin tears. Although nursing home residents do deal with some emotional changes and some injuries may happen on accident, any sign that your relative is quickly changing should be addressed.

If staff members refuse to answer your questions or seem to deflect them, you may want to follow up. It is normal for an employee to tell you they will research an answer to your question, but refusal to discuss the patient’s care or evasion of your questions is a clear red flag that you may want to follow up on.

If the facility has inadequate, discordant or frantic staff or a high turnover rate, there may be a pattern of abuse. When phone calls go unanswered or call lights are ignored, it is obvious that the home is understaffed. Any time your loved one tells you they do not want a certain employee to care for them, you may want to do more research.

This information is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.