It’s impossible for you to keep watch ’round the clock over your loved one in a nursing home. In fact, your inability to be present 24/7 was undoubtedly part of the reason you and your family determined that the time had come for your parent to transition to fully assisted living in a nursing care facility. It’s difficult to entrust your loved one’s care to others; you might worry about nursing home neglect.
There’s good reason to be concerned about such issues. While there’s no excuse for neglecting nursing home patients, the fact that this type of substandard care occurs in Illinois and elsewhere is a reality. The best you can do is to be aware of symptoms of neglect and to know what to do if you suspect a problem. There are four red flag issues that suggest that your loved one may be at risk.
Is your loved one always thirsty or hungry?
Adapting to a new diet and eating schedule can be challenging for older people who are new to the nursing home environment. However, if your loved one is constantly telling you that he or she is thirsty or hungry, you may be dealing with malnutrition or insufficient hydration problems. This is often a sign of nursing home neglect.
Does your family member appear disheveled or unkempt?
While it wouldn’t exactly be logical to expect your loved one to be looking his or her best every time you visit, you can reasonably expect that his or her physical appearance should demonstrate that the facility is providing proper hygiene and grooming assistance. If it appears that your loved one is not clean, his or her hair never combed or teeth not clean, etc., it’s definitely cause for concern.
Bedsheets and clothing should be clean
It’s understandable that you’d be shocked and upset to discover that your loved one is lying in a bed of soiled linens at the nursing home where he or she resides. If the room smells like urine or feces, it may be caused by lack of proper care. It’s not uncommon for bladder or bowel accidents to occur in a nursing home; however, care providers typically know which patients have such problems and take swift action to provide clean linens and bed clothes, as needed.
Bed sores are preventable
One of the most common signs of nursing home neglect is bed sores. Your loved one should not have them. Even if he or she is immobile without assistance, care providers should be helping him or her change positions every few hours. Bed sores can develop nasty infections that, in some cases, can become a life-threatening health risk.
What to do if you suspect nursing home neglect
You may request a meeting with a patient advocate or other nursing home administrator at any time. It’s helpful to write out a list of concerns and questions that you wish to discuss at your meeting. If you’re satisfied with the explanation you’re given as to why your loved one has soiled clothing or why there’s an abrasion on his or her body, etc., then all may be well.
If you’re not satisfied, then it’s a good idea to continue to investigate the situation, enlisting outside support, including legal advocates or law enforcement, if necessary.