Many families worry about the care that their loved ones receive in nursing homes. However, they are not familiar enough with the signs that something could be wrong. Reassurances from the nurses are not always enough, even in cases where your loved one cannot communicate.
It’s important to know that nursing home negligence is different from nursing home abuse. Abuse is active harm against an individual, while neglect is causing harm by ignoring a problem that should’ve been addressed.
There are six major signs to look for if you believe your loved one has experienced mental or physical abuse:
Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
These are easy to notice if you walk through the nursing home and pay attention. While most nursing homes aren’t as fancy as a hotel, you likely know the signs of an unsafe or unclean place. Most important are clean clothing and bedding, clean bathrooms, and a clean kitchen. If you notice the smell of waste on multiple visits, that could be a sign that personal hygiene isn’t a priority for the home.
Nursing homes are required to help residents with personal hygiene tasks. But if staff levels are low and overworked these can get neglected. Negligence occurs when the nurse fails to change a diaper on time or subtle things like clipping nails or combing hair. One thing that is often missed is routine dental care.
Malnourishment and dehydration can happen due to neglect. There are several reasons for this. Some may be related to the patient. If they are depressed or are having difficulty swallowing then they may not want to eat or drink. Caregivers need to be aware of this so they can take steps to address the problem. However, some nursing homes have poor menu plans. Watch for things like sudden weight changes, especially weight loss in patients who cannot feed themselves.
Injuries from falling
Falls are common in the elderly. It is up to you to find out why injuries such as bruises, head injuries, or broken bones happened. The average nursing home patient falls 2.6 times a year according to the CDC, so a fall in and of itself is not a sign of neglect, but it is a sign that you need to investigate. When touring a nursing home, look for things that can help patients prevent falls or get back up after a fall. Also, ask about how the staff trains for falls and deals with fall risks.
Lack of mobility
Our bodies need to move to stay healthy. Staying in bed for a long period can lead to bedsores, infections, and muscle atrophy. Ask your loved one’s nursing staff about the exercise regimens they have for patients to prevent these things. Even bedridden individuals have to be rotated from side to side every so often to prevent bedsores.
Patients who experience neglect from staff can develop significant psychological issues. If your loved one exhibits fear, anger, or depression, talk with them about it. Neglecting this can cause patients to neglect their own needs. It can cause patients to avoid eating, taking medication, or performing hygiene functions. Not every psychological issue is due to staff neglect, but it is a warning sign that is serious. Ask the nurses about any mood swings they may have noticed.
If you suspect your loved one has experienced neglect or abuse, please contact Galligan Law as soon as possible for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who will treat you with respect and prioritize justice in your case.