Searching for Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

 

We trust nursing homes and assisted living facilities to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities: elderly individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves. Unfortunately, this trust is sometimes misplaced, and the consequences can be tragic.

 

Abuse and neglect can be particularly worrisome because if often goes unreported. Residents may fear retribution if they speak out about substandard living conditions or may not want to burden their loved ones with such concerns. In some cases, nursing home staff may make it difficult for residents to report neglect. In others, some residents are physically unable to communicate their concerns.

 

Accordingly, it is particularly important that family members and loved ones of those in nursing homes look for signs of elder abuse or neglect.

What signs might indicate abuse or neglect?

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, sprains or fractures may indicate a problem. Although elderly individuals are often more susceptible to injuries than their younger counterparts, any injuries should come with a reasonable explanation. If staff members cannot provide explanations for injuries, this may indicate a need to look more closely for problems.
  • Bedsores or frozen joints may indicate that an individual is not receiving adequate care. If nursing home resident is not moving frequently enough, either autonomously or with assistance, sores can develop and joints can become immobile.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration should serve as a warning sign. Nursing home residents rely on caregivers to provide food and water. If a resident is not properly nourished, it may be evidence that the nursing home staff members simply are not paying sufficient attention to those in their care.
  • If nursing home residents are dependent on their caregivers for even basic personal care, poor personal hygiene may indicate neglect.
  • When a nursing home resident experiences a sudden change in mood or behavior, it may warrant further investigation.

Often times, neglect in nursing homes arises as a consequence of broad institutional problems. Far too often, nursing homes are understaffed and employees are overworked. Those in charge of hiring may not perform proper background checks to ensure that the staff members are qualified to handle the responsibilities they are assigned. Even with proper staffing levels, the employees may be insufficiently supervised, thereby creating conditions that allow neglect.

This is unacceptable. Those who are entrusted with the care of the elderly must be held accountable when the care falls short. If you are concerned about the neglect or abuse of a loved one in a nursing home, speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options and available legal recourse.

 

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