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Are those bruises on your mother a sign of nursing home abuse?

Imagine this: You go to visit your mother at the nursing home and find her arms covered with bruises. She shrugs off your questions and doesn't seem to have an explanation for the marks. You ask the nurse on duty about them and are told, "That happens to old people. Their skin is just so thin."

Well, maybe. The nurse does have a point. Older people do tend to bruise easily -- and they heal more slowly than the young. Common medications, especially blood thinners, can also make vivid bruises appear very easily. So can certain medical conditions.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself is whether or not you have any other reasons to suspect the bruises are coming from abuse. Is there a cause for worry? Consider the following questions:

  1. Has there been any change in your mother's mental state? Is she suddenly fearful or withdrawn for no visible reason?
  2. Is your mother able to articulate what might have happened to her? Does she suffer from dementia that makes it hard for her to rem ember events?
  3. Are there other signs of abuse or neglect, like torn and dirty clothing, bed sores, a loss of weight or dehydration?
  4. Do the bruises or marks look like fingerprints? Do they make it seem like your mother was physically restrained?
  5. When you ask the staff questions are they appropriately concerned and responsive?

If the answers to these questions make you uncomfortable or concerned, it's time to look more deeply into the issue. Nursing home abuse and neglect is a chronic problem that can only be addressed by proactive involvement by a victim's loved ones. Find out more about the legal steps you can take next.

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