In 2003, the National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect estimated that anywhere from 1 to 2 million Americans aged 65 plus have been subjected to abuse by a caregiver.

Nursing home abuse is a terrifying reality that is often underreported. We trust nursing homes to take care of those we love the most, but sometimes, that trust is betrayed. You should always keep an eye out for signs that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse. If you do not look out for them, no one else will.

Demand to know all the details if your loved one suffers any broken bones while in a nursing home. Bones become more fragile as we age, and although a fractured hip could be the result of an accidental fall, it could also be caused by a negligent or abusive caregiver.

Another sign of nursing home neglect is finding out your loved one wandered off and was missing without the knowledge of the nursing home staff. It does not matter how short the period of time was or whether he/she was lost on or off the premises.

Keep a close eye on all medicines that your loved one is taking. If he or she seems heavily medicated or “out of it,” speak with the doctor in charge to make sure he/she is only taking medicines that are prescribed. In many instances of nursing home abuse, the victim is given medication so that he/she will not remember the abuse.

Any sudden changes in weight, such as rapid weight gain or loss, should be discussed with a physician. Stress resulting from abuse can cause otherwise unexplained weight changes.

If you find out that your loved one is sick frequently but the illnesses were not promptly reported to you by the nursing home, you have good reason to suspect nursing home abuse. A resident’s family members should be kept abreast of all changes to a resident’s health. When you are not receiving updates on his or her condition, there is reason to believe that something is being overlooked or covered up.

There are Maryland state laws and federal laws in place to protect nursing home residents. If you notice one or more signs that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, take action.