Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse in Older Adults with Dementia

Anyone with an elderly loved one in a San Bernardino nursing home or any long-term care facility in Southern California should be aware of elder abuse and neglect risks and should be able to recognize concerning signs in order to take action. Yet, being able to recognize potential signs of abuse becomes significantly more important when you have an elderly loved one with dementia in a nursing home. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, the term “dementia” does not refer to a specific, diagnosed disease, “but rather is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities.” What do you need to know about recognizing nursing home abuse if you have an elderly parent or loved one with dementia? Our San Bernardino nursing home abuse attorneys can tell you more.

Understanding Dementia

In order to understand specific signs or symptoms of elder abuse in nursing home residents with dementia, it is essential to understand how older adults are affected by dementia and what it involves. The CDC explains that about five million people over the age of 65 had dementia in 2014, and that number has risen over the last decade. To be sure, as the aging population increases, the number of dementia patients is expected to surge and to nearly triple by the year 2060.

Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia, but it is not the only type of dementia. While the CDC reports that it does account for about 60 percent to 80 percent of all dementia cases, other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontal-temporal dementia, and mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s disease in addition to another form of dementia). Older adults with dementia tend to have problems with memory, attention, communication, reasoning, judgment, problem-solving, and visual perception, according to the CDC. As dementia progresses, these problems tend to worsen.

Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Abuse When a Resident Has Dementia

Older adults in nursing homes who have a form of dementia can experience the same types of elder abuse as any other residents, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, passive neglect, willful deprivation, and confinement. However, given that nursing home residents with dementia have impaired cognitive abilities, they may be more likely to experience abuse or neglect in addition to being less able to report it.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nursing home residents who have dementia “are especially vulnerable because the disease may prevent them from reporting the abuse or recognizing it.” As such, it is especially important for family members and friends to look for signs of abuse or neglect, which can include but are not limited to:

  • Bruises, cuts, burns, and other signs of physical abuse;
  • Restraint marks;
  • Unexplained broken bones or injuries;
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted infections, torn or bloodied underwear, and other potential signs of sexual abuse;
  • Depression, anxiety, or other changes in behavior that are unexplained;
  • Bed sores; and/or
  • Tense, fearful, or troubled interactions with nursing home staff members.

Contact a San Bernardino County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Anyone with concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home — especially if there are issues of cognitive impairment or dementia — should seek help from a San Bernardino nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm for assistance.


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