Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be difficult for any family. These difficulties and emotions worsen with the possibility of neglect in the facility. It’s hard to believe residents are neglected and mistreated in their nursing homes. After all, why wouldn’t employees put their all into patients’ care?
If you’re worried your loved one is experiencing neglect but aren’t sure, here are some signs you should investigate:
If the patient is showing any new or abnormal issues in his or her health, that’s a red flag. Things like foul odor, weight loss, dehydration, mysterious injuries or bruises, lack of personal hygiene, pressure ulcers, new illnesses, UTI’s, immobility, or any change of condition uncommon for the resident are causes for worry. Oftentimes, a change in physical state is the clearest indicator of neglect in a nursing home. For example, serious weight loss usually shows a lack of attention to the patient’s nutritional needs, while pressure ulcers usually indicate that enough time isn’t spent helping them to move about and change positions. The worse the symptoms get, the more danger they present to your loved one. If a nurse or other staff tells you symptoms like these are/were unavoidable for the resident, such could be indicative of understaffing or other institutional problems at the facility. Most often, pressure ulcers are avoidable, and quite often weight loss and/or dehydration are avoidable.
Similarly, if your loved one’s surroundings seem abnormal or unhealthy, that’s also cause for alarm. Things like odor, stains, soiled bed linens or clothing, appearance of insects or vermin, or general poor quality in the resident’s living conditions are often signs of neglect. Also, if important things like water and call buttons are out of reach for the resident, those could be major problems for the resident’s health and safety, and they need to be addressed.
If a nursing home resident is experiencing psychological abuse or neglect, they will often show this more through their behavior than through their words. If your loved one’s personality has changed dramatically, if they act more distant or nonverbal than normal, or if they seem afraid or unhappy with their caretakers, these are all signs of psychological neglect in their nursing home.
Sometimes, when it comes to a loved one’s psychological wellbeing, it’s easier to pass their problems off as effects of their age or sickness, but it’s important to recognize the difference between a light shift in attitude and a serious psychological change. Oftentimes a significant psychological downturn results from neglect or abuse.
However, if your loved one is giving verbal objections to their care, listen. If they are speaking out against their caretakers’ treatment or making physical objections, don’t mistake their attitudes for confusion or normal unhappiness. Whether your loved one is in perfect control of his or her faculties, or has severe dementia, their complaints about their care are valid.
What this really boils down to is lack of attention by staff and wariness of the resident. If something seems wrong about your loved one’s behavior or condition, it’s better to look deeper into the problem than to ignore it. Even if it turns out to be nothing, you’ll be happy you made sure. And often, the basis or reason for a psychological downturn can be identified, addressed and improved upon. If you have any questions, contact a nursing home negligence attorney for aids.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Poliakoff & Associates for their insight into nursing home abuse.