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How to Speak to Your Elderly Loved One About Nursing Home Abuse

Updated September 6, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

The elderly population, especially those residing in nursing homes and dependent on staff care, are vulnerable to abuse at tragic rates in the United States. This abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, financial, or sexual. It can also look like neglect. And it is, unfortunately, all too common.

Having a conversation about abuse can be difficult. Victims can feel ashamed, embarrassed, or scared, and unfortunately, a common factor in abuse victims is that they believe they are at fault for the abuse. Follow these guidelines to establish a nonjudgmental and loving dialogue.

Identify Potential Abuse

Symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect can be obvious or subtle; they also vary depending on the type of abuse. By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs, you can better identify when the elderly people in your life are hurting.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my elderly loved one reluctant to talk about injuries you notice?
  • Has their behavior, health, or attitude changed suddenly?
  • Is there anything suspicious happening, whether in the nursing home or outside of it, concerning your loved one?
  • What does your gut say?

Not all victims speak up. It is up to you—family and friends of elderly abuse victims—to recognize signs of potential abuse.

Start the Conversation

If you believe that abuse or neglect is or may be occurring in the nursing home, the next step is to start a conversation with your elderly loved one about your suspicions. This conversation might be uncomfortable and infuriating—for both you and the victim. Here are some talking points to help you get started:

  • Do you need help?
  • Is there anything wrong?
  • Is there anything happening at your nursing home that you need help with?
  • I noticed an injury. What happened?
  • I noticed a change in your behavior. Can you tell me about it?

Although these questions may seem simplistic, such straightforward questions may help victims discuss the situation.

Listen Carefully

After prompting a discussion, your job is to listen. Listen carefully, without making judgments, interrupting their story, or showing extreme emotions such as pity or anger.

By listening carefully, you are showing that you support and believe the victim.

Provide Resources and Encouragement

Abuse victims are not to blame, and they are not alone. Provide resources that back up these facts, such as statistics that show how common nursing home abuse is and a concrete reinforcement that you believe them.

Outline Next Steps

When you suspect nursing home abuse, you need to report the abuse, move care elsewhere, and contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights.

Telling their story can be overwhelming for nursing home abuse victims, and next steps are equally as scary. Emphasize that you will be with them every step of the way as you seek justice and discuss legal options.

Contact a Nursing Home and Elderly Abuse Attorney Today

If you spoke with your elderly loved one and discovered that a nursing home or its employees have committed abuse or neglect, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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