How do I know if someone is being abused or neglected in a nursing home?

Despite the fact that nursing homes and other long term care facilities are paid tens of thousands of dollars to care for our loved ones, the unfortunate reality is that far to many people are victims of abuse or neglect. This can be a serious problem since residents often cannot communicate what is happening to them. Even in the nicest appearing nursing home residents can be victimized when just one care giver fails to do their job. Even the most vigilant family cannot, and should not have to, watch their loved one 24 hours a day. Although abuse and neglect can occur at any hour of the day, most frequently they occur during the overnight shifts when the staffing is at its lowest and where the newest staff members are often assigned.

The best way to help protect your loved one is to visit them as frequently as possible. Use your common sense when things don’t seem right. Ask questions. And call us if you think your family member may be a victim.

Additionally, here are some warning signs that you should be looking for:

  • Open sores. In addition to being extremely painful these sores can often give rise to deadly infections.
  • Areas of redness on the skin especially on the heels, elbows, shoulder blades or just above the buttocks. This can be an early warning sign of bedsores.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Frequent bruising.
  • Unexplained injuries including broken bones and cuts.
  • Sudden changes in behavior.
  • Lack of cleanliness.
  • Begging for food or drink. These can be signs of malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Absence of staff.
  • Lack of fall precautions

It is also important to listen to your loved one and take their complaints seriously. This is difficult if your family member is suffering from dementia. They may not be able to explain clearly what is happening to them but if, for example, they start to complain about “that woman” doing something do not assume it is an imaginary person.

In the end, your commons sense should be your guide. If things don’t feel right or just don’t add up, call us. Our consultations are free.