Nursing home physical abuse is substantiated in one-fifth of all verified nursing home abuse reports. If an elder reports being abused, or demonstrates an inexplicable change of behavior or demeanor, physical abuse should be suspected and investigated without delay.
Physical abuse is the use of physical force resulting in bodily injury, pain or impairment. Hitting (striking or slapping, with or without an object), pushing, shoving, shaking, kicking, pinching, burning—any act of inflicting physical harm—constitutes physical abuse. Drugging, restraining, and force-feeding are also methods of nursing home physical abuse.
Obvious signs of abuse might include broken eyeglasses and frames or signs of being restrained.
If a caregiver seems reticent or refuses to allow you to see your loved one alone, more discreet means of verifying abuse should be considered, such as lab tests to detect medication overdose or the under use of prescribed drugs.
In addition to an elder’s report of being abused, pay attention to any sudden change of behavior on the elder’s part. Visible signs of nursing home physical abuse may include, but are not limited to, bruises, welts, lacerations, marks, broken bones, open wounds, cuts, and punctures. Untreated injuries in various stages of healing, sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries and bleeding also indicate nursing home physical abuse.