If you have a loved one whom you suspect was being abused, you may wonder why they never said anything to you about it. If they are mentally competent, you’d imagine that they’d complain or privately discuss the problem. However, many people don’t report abuse for a variety of reasons. They may think that they’re causing a problem, deserve what they’re going through or feel guilty that they can’t defend themselves.

Some elders going through abuse are not able to express what is happening to them. For example, someone with dementia may try to say something happened but say things that are so unusual so often that they aren’t taken seriously. Someone who cannot move or speak well may have trouble communicating that they have been victimized.

What can you do to talk to a loved one who may have been abused?

If you have a loved one who may have been abused, it’s important to speak with them. If they are able to speak with you normally, you may want to take them out of a nursing home and into a safe environment before speaking with them. Reassure them that they can be honest and that you’ll support them. Make sure they know that they don’t have to return to a place where they are not being treated well. If they will not open up to you, you may also consider taking them to see a therapist for support.

If abuse is a problem in the nursing home, speak out. Your loved one deserves protection and appropriate care. If they are not receiving it, you should pursue answers and potentially seek a claim against the nursing home or its providers.