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How can one recognize nursing home neglect or abuse? (Part 1)

When we talk about problems in society that are constantly evolving and growing in scope, sometimes the words we use to describe them become inadequate or even confusing. Here on our Ann Arbor medical malpractice law blog, we've been discussing nursing home neglect for the past few weeks, but let's take a step back and make sure that we're being clear for our readers asking: just what constitutes nursing home neglect or abuse?

Of course, in regard to some acts, there is no question. Physical abuse includes striking or pushing a nursing home resident, although it can also include using physical or chemical means to restrain a person depending on the circumstances. Sexual assault is also a clear violation. But emotional abuse -- humiliating or threatening an elder, inflicting mental anguish whether verbally or nonverbally -- also commonly falls within the realm of nursing home abuse.

There are other types of abuse, however, that can be just as serious within a nursing home or assisted living facility. Failing to provide a resident with the correct food or medicine, as well as failure to protect them when one knows they're in jeopardy, are forms of nursing home neglect. Exploitation is another form. That could consist of taking a senior's funds or property illegally, although in some scenarios misusing or concealing those assets from the resident to whom they belong also occurs, and that is also exploitation.

This information is general in nature and not intended as specific advice; the point we want our Ann Arbor readers to understand is that, while some nursing home neglect situations will leave clear physical evidence, others may not -- or may not leave the kind of evidence one necessarily recognizes as abuse. We'll look in more detail in a follow-up post at some warning signs for which our readers will want to be on the lookout.

Source: Administration on Aging, "What is Elder Abuse?," accessed on Jan. 17, 2015

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