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How to identify the warning signs of elder abuse

For families with loved ones' in nursing homes, being able to identify the warning signs of elder abuse is critical.  While many West Virginia assisted living facilities take great pride in caring for their patients, there is always the possibility that mistreatment is taking place behind closed doors.

That's why the Administration for Community Living strives to make all families aware of those signs that point to elder abuse and neglect. Visible physical signs of abuse are often the easiest to detect, although nursing home staff may attempt to downplay things like bruises, scratches and other signs of mistreatment. Families must also be on the lookout for obvious signs of neglect when it comes to medical care. Bed sores can pose a huge problem, and often indicate that the attending staff is not providing sufficient attention to residents. General uncleanliness or a decrease in hygiene are also indicators of neglect.

While slightly less obvious, many seniors will exhibit a distinct change in behavior as a result of abusive episodes. For instance, a person that was once upbeat and happy may appear to be sullen and withdrawn for no overt reason. In this event, asking questions of the resident as well as the staff is greatly encouraged. If abuse is suspected, notification of the proper authorities is the next step.

Abuse of the elderly is becoming a far-reaching issue as more and more people require assistance in daily living, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. One study in particular determined that up to 44 percent of nursing home residents suffered from some form of elder abuse. Additionally, a staggering 95 percent of residents claimed to witness abuse or neglect within a nursing home, and that 70 percent of nursing home surveys conducted by state officials overlooked deficiencies. 

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