The decision to trust the care of an elderly loved one to a nursing home is probably one of the hardest decisions many have to make in life. Adding to the difficulty of the decision are the periodic reports in the news media of nursing home abuse or neglect. However, unlike some states, the news is not all bad for residents of New Jersey. According to Families for Better Care, a nonprofit elder rights group, nursing homes in the state received a "B" grade overall on the organization's nursing home report card. Although most of New Jersey's nursing homes are thankfully not among the nation's worst, it is important for those with loved ones in these facilities to always be vigilant for signs of neglect or abuse when visiting. Signs to look for There are several types of elder abuse, each having its own distinctive signs. The principal types include: • Physical: Signs of this type of abuse include unexplained bruises, cuts, broken bones, scars and restraint marks. • Emotional: This type of abuse can manifest itself in symptoms that are similar to dementia, such as sucking, rocking or mumbling incoherently. Additionally, if you witness any caregiver behavior towards your loved one that is demeaning, controlling or threatening, it is a possible indicator of this type of abuse. • Sexual: Abuse of this form is often evidenced by the development of sexually transmitted diseases, torn or stained undergarments, or bruising and bleeding around the breasts or genital areas. • Financial: Unexplained withdrawals from banking accounts, suspicious purchases or missing personal items are possible signs of this type of abuse. • Neglect: Caregiver neglect can often be evidenced by the development of bedsores, unsanitary conditions, wandering or elopement, poor hygiene, malnutrition or dehydration. What to do if confronted with abuse If you suspect abuse or witness it firsthand, your top priority should be the welfare of your loved one. Call 911 and ensure that he or she receives the necessary medical attention. Once this has been done, your focus should shift to holding those responsible for the abuse or neglect accountable. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. can listen to your situation and advise you on the next steps to take.