Nursing home abuse and neglect are unfortunately not uncommon in long term care facilities where elderly victims are so vulnerable. Victims may face physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Neglect and/or failure to attend to medical needs is also a type of abuse. Even negligent and unintentional ill treatment can become abuse if it is not addressed by the facility. Here are five red flags to be aware of if your loved one is in a nursing home and what you can do to support your family member if you believe they may be suffering.
If your loved one is in bed all day, they should not be sustaining cuts, bruises, and burns. Any incident of these injuries should have an explanation. Be wary if none is offered or the reason for the injuries seems far-fetched.
Bed sores indicate a lack of care since patients need to be shifted at intervals to avoid them. If this is a consistent issue with your loved one’s nursing home, look for another facility. Bed sores are often the first sign that your loved one may not be properly cared for and they may be suffering other forms of abuse or neglect.
Depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and fear are often normal with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. If you notice any of these symptoms intensify, your loved one’s doctor should have an explanation and course of treatment.
However, if these symptoms also accompany a hesitation to talk openly or a negative reaction to a particular staff member, there may be verbal or physical abuse involved. Ask to have the situation investigated. This is especially true if, in a moment of lucidity, your loved one indicates they do not want that person near them anymore.
Overbearing Staff Members
Nursing home workers are frequently overworked and underappreciated. But when the occasional crabbiness presents more frequently as overbearing behavior, pay attention.
If you find that a staff member will not let your loved one speak for themselves or presents an attitude of indifference or anger, report the incident. Sometimes, staff members will confine a patient or isolate them socially “for their own good.” Unless your loved one has contracted a communicable disease, this is not normal. It may be an attempt at power and control.
Unengaged Staff Members
Observe the working environment at the nursing home. Staff members should interact with patients during their shifts, not just congregate with each other. Telephone calls and requests for assistance should be answered in a timely manner.
Also, if you inquire on an issue, you should receive an answer. Disengagement often results in a lack of knowledge. Even an, “I do not know, I’ll ask the doctor and get back to you” answer is more acceptable than a shrug and “I do not know.”
Uncharacteristic Medical Conditions
Dehydration and malnutrition without an immediate explanation are big red flags. They indicate nursing home neglect at the least. Always inquire if you notice your loved one loses weight or complains of being thirsty without adequate explanation, such as medication side effects. If explanations are strange or not forthcoming, consider reporting the situation.
If your loved one develops an unusual condition, that requires immediate explanation too. For example, a sex abuse case was revealed when a patient contracted herpes. Any sudden, uncharacteristic medical conditions may be the result of abuse or neglect in some form.
In some cases, when a loved one dies in a nursing home, it is the result of a wrongful death. Since many nursing homes provide end of life care, it can be difficult to know whether a loved one’s passing was natural or the result of neglect or abuse. It’s important that you make note of anything suspicious and request a full investigation into the death of your loved one if you believe that their death may have been preventable.
When to Reach Out to a Lawyer
You have every right to expect good care and protection for your loved ones living in nursing homes. If you suspect nursing home abuse and the facility is not taking your report seriously, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home negligence lawyer at (855) 693-9084.