Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be an agonizing decision.
Facility staff you trust with your loved one can multiply that agony if they are negligent or abusive. All too often, your loved one may not be able to detail the abuse due to embarrassment or disability.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, here are some signs you should look out for and steps you should take.
#1 – Bruising
If you notice any unexplained bruising, it could be a sign that a resident is being abused. Typically, bruising occurs if an employee of the nursing home or assisted living facility strikes a resident.
In addition to checking for bruises on the body, observe the wrists and ankles for scars or welts that may result from unnecessary or too tight restraints (e.g., ropes, handcuffs, or belts).
The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates physical abuse accounts for roughly 29% of abuse complaints. If you notice unexplained bruising, make sure to seek medical attention to treat the injury first. A medical exam will help determine if the bruising is a result of physical or sexual abuse.
#2 – Malnutrition
Although age and medications can play a pivotal role in a nursing home resident’s appetite, lack of attention to proper nutrition and hydration can lead to malnutrition.
Malnutrition can then lead to other medical conditions such as dehydration and lowered disease resistance for patients already at risk of poor health.
#3 – Falls
Falls lead to broken bones, high medical costs, and even death. Neither of these should be common occurrences at nursing homes.
The Center for Disease Control notes that falls account for 95% of broken hips in people over 60.
Nursing homes have to recognize the level of care and attention residents need and adjust their medical plans accordingly. Falls are preventable, but inadequate training and staffing can lead to these unfortunate accidents.
#4 – Medication Errors
If you notice your loved one is incoherent, tired, and/or sleeping much of the day, it could be a sign they are not getting the proper medication dosage.
Suppose the staff does not quickly notice changes in a resident’s sleep habits, physical symptoms, mood, or mental awareness and adjust the care plan. In that case, it can lead to further medical complications such as overdose or death.
#5 – Negligence
Broken bones, bedsores, body odor, dirty clothing, and more can occur due to understaffing or inattentive staff members.
Another sign of nursing home neglect to look for is the immobility of a once active resident due to the lack of an exercise program or walking assistance.
How can you help prevent abuse?
Familiarize yourself with signs of nursing home abuse. Always feel free to speak with nursing home care providers to ask questions about staffing and programs. These programs should be designed to ensure your loved one is getting the attention he or she deserves.
What should you do if you suspect abuse?
If you suspect abuse and believe someone is in imminent danger, call local law enforcement first. When the danger is not immediate, report your suspicions to the local Adult Protective Services agency.
If you find that a loved one has suffered an injury due to nursing home abuse or neglect, please call the attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake & League. We can help.