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As Nursing Homes Reopen For Visits, Be Alert for Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

It has been a long six months for residents of nursing homes in Vancouver. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March 2020, the state has restricted in-person visits at these facilities in an effort to protect those most vulnerable. Older adults face increased risks in terms of contracting the virus and developing serious, potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Unfortunately, while locking down nursing homes was meant to protect them, it unintentionally exposed older adults to additional risks. Elder abuse and neglect is one of the leading causes of personal injuries for people over the age of 65. As nursing homes begin allowing visits, it is important for family members to be aware of warning signs.  

Elder Abuse and Neglect In Nursing Homes

For families with older adult relatives, nursing homes often provide the best way to ensure they get the level of care and medical attention they need. However, when placing loved ones in facilities, it is important to be aware of potential risks. 

According to the National Council On Aging, elder abuse and neglect is an unfortunately common problem. Studies indicate that as many as five million older adults are subject to some type of abuse each year. Sadly, one out of every 14 cases ends up being reported. Common types of elder abuse include: 

  • Physical abuse, such as hitting, punching, pushing, and other aggressive behavior;
  • Sexual abuse, such as inappropriate touching and harassment;
  • Emotional abuse, such as name calling, insults, and making threats;
  • Passive neglect, which involves failing to provide for an older adults basis needs;
  • Willful deprivation, which means intentionally depriving them of care or attention needed to maintain both their physical and mental health. 

Warning Signs to Watch Out For During Your Visit

Since March of 2020, nursing homes have been on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. In August, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee relaxed these restrictions and released new COVID-19 guidelines for nursing home visits. As each facility had to submit an application to the state and meet certain standards, some people are just now beginning to be able to resume face to face contact with their family members. 

Stress surrounding the pandemic, restrictions put in place, and isolation from loved ones provide the ideal situation for elder abuse and neglect to occur. When resuming visits with older adults in nursing homes, it is important for families to be aware of warning signs: 

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises, or other personal injuries;
  • A generally unkempt appearance;
  • Increase anxiety, depression, or isolation from other residents;
  • Appearing fearful when attendants are near;
  • General declines in overall health;
  • Dramatic weight loss;
  • Untreated injuries or medical conditions. 

Let Us Help You Today

If you suspect an older adult loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, reach out to the Johnston Law Firm P.C.. We provide the professional legal representation needed to hold those at fault accountable. To request a confidential consultation, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland personal injury attorneys online today.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.