Sadly, abuse and neglect of nursing home residents happens far too often. Even though you probably can't predict whether the home you chose to care for your loved one will fail to provide the level of care you expected, you can keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Monitoring your loved one, the staff and the facility itself could help you determine whether your loved one suffers from some form of neglect or abuse. In order to do so, you need to know what signs to watch for when you visit your loved one.
Nursing homes should diligently maintain a clean and sanitary facility. If you notice deficiencies in any of the following areas, it could allude to neglect:
- Dirty bathrooms
- Unwashed sheets
- Unsanitary kitchen
- Unclean clothes
If you notice any of these issues at the facility where your loved one resides, you may bring it to the attention of the staff and the administration of the home. If such oversights continue, however, you may need to take further action.
Your loved one may require assistance with the following personal hygiene tasks:
- Teeth brushing
- Hair combing
- Clipping nails
If your loved one doesn't receive help with these tasks, it could constitute neglect. It may seem strange to inspect your loved one to detect poor personal hygiene, but this kind of neglect could put his or her health in danger and cause discomfort.
An important part of anyone's health is to keep moving. Even when your loved one has certain mobility restrictions, being able to move around as much as possible can contribute to improved health. Your loved one's nursing home may advertise exercise and activity programs to keep residents active, but that does not mean that the staff and administration ensure that every resident participates.
In addition to losing the ability to move around, someone left sitting or lying down for long periods of time could develop bedsores and infections.
Should you notice any unexplained bruises, cuts or abrasions, among other injuries, this could signal that the staff failed to properly monitor your loved one. Significant injuries such as head injuries or broken bones more than likely indicate that staff neglected or abused your loved one.
Many injuries tend to come from falls. Approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die from falls each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data indicates that your loved one could fall an average of 2.6 times during the course of a year. Even though elderly adults do tend to be unstable on their feet, the nursing home, its staff and administrators should take precautions to help ensure their safety, including monitoring medications.
Signs of dehydration or malnutrition could come from neglect. Even though psychological issues such as depression can contribute to these maladies, if the staff does not take the time to ensure proper nutrition, your loved one's health could (further) deteriorate. Many nursing homes have high staff turnover rates and are chronically understaffed. However, your loved one shouldn't suffer due to inadequacies on the part of the nursing home management or owners.
What you can do
If you notice any of these red flags for neglect or abuse, make your voice heard and ensure the safety of your loved one. You can complain to the nursing home and government agencies in charge of their oversight. If necessary, you may consider filing a civil legal action against the home if the circumstances warrant it. In some cases, the abuse or neglect could rise to a criminal level, so reporting signs of abuse or neglect to police may also be another option.