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Common nursing home injuries may indicate abuse

Many New York residents prefer to care for their elderly family members themselves, but sometimes health issues require medical care and equipment that is only available in a nursing home. While most nursing homes provide exceptional care, there are some instances of neglect and abuse. Nursing home injuries are usually related to simple accidents, but they are sometimes indicators of substandard care. Knowing the most common signs of abuse and neglect may help people protect their loved ones.

The National Center on Elder Abuse provides resources to help prevent the mistreatment of elderly people. According to the NCEA, some of the common signs of physical abuse include bruises, broken bones and abrasions. Sexual abuse may cause bruising or other injuries to genital areas. Nursing home injuries may also affect a resident's emotional and/or mental state. Some warning signs of mental or emotional abuse include depression, unusual behavior, anxiety or refusal to participate in standard activities. Weight loss, poor hygiene and bedsores may indicate neglect or insufficient care.

Unfortunately, it is often easy to cover up nursing home abuse. Federal law requires people who suspect abuse or neglect to report it to the police, but unreported incidents still occur. Nursing home employees may say that an accident caused a resident's injuries. In some cases, memory issues or communication challenges may prevent residents from reporting neglect or abuse.

An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department shows that many cases of nursing home abuse remain unreported to police or federal authorities. The investigation report provides suggestions on how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (which regulate nursing homes) may improve their methods for finding and preventing abuse. The OIG report may give CMS and New York state authorities more tools to effectively prevent nursing home injuries from abuse or neglect.

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