When many Connecticut residents hear the word ‘abuse’ in the context of another person being ‘abused,’ they usually think about an active, physical act. Punching or hitting someone, for example, may be the kind of abuse most often pictured. While these kinds of overt acts certainly are abuse in most circumstance, there are other, more insidious forms of abuse that exist, and these may be more prevalent, especially when dealing with vulnerable populations such as the elderly.

Elder abuse in Connecticut is any kind of physical or emotional injury inflicted willfully on an elderly person, but it can also consist of exploitation, abandonment or deprivation of essential services. Because actual physical abuse leaves marks and is easier to notice, many times, abuse takes these more passive forms. The deprivation of essential services means withdrawal or withholding of any service that would be essential to a nursing home resident’s well-being.

So, while improper use of restraints or threats of violence might constitute abuse, so too could not providing workers to move a bed-ridden resident enough to prevent sores or withholding necessary medication or locking the patient in his or her room. These types of acts are harder to prove than physical abuse and may depend upon the testimony of the resident to whom they are happening. Because older people sometimes have difficulty remembering details or become confused more easily, these behaviors sometimes go under-reported.

In short, patients and residents of nursing homes and their loved ones should be vigilant and aware of the types of abuse that could occur. Talking frequently with family members in such institutions and being inquisitive about their conditions, as well as trusting what they tell you may be the best way to guard against the violation of that person’s rights by nursing home employees.