When you put your spouse, a parent or another loved one in a nursing home, you cannot blindly trust that the professionals and staff will provide the level of care your loved one deserves. Nursing home patients cannot always advocate for themselves, especially if they have dementia. They need you to be vigilant for red flags or subtle signs of mistreatment.
The following may be indications of nursing home abuse or neglect:
- Bedsores — Bedridden patients are prone to these painful wounds at pressure points such as elbows, heels, hips and buttocks. Staffers should reposition immobile patients every few hours to prevent bedsores or alert medical personnel when bedsores first develop.
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises, bandages or fractures — Ask your loved one what happened and follow up with the nursing home administrator if the injuries are suspicious.
- Uncharacteristic mood or behavior — If your loved one seems depressed, unusually quiet, teary, agitated or fearful, it may be a sign of abuse or neglect.
- Notable weight loss or decline — Sudden weight loss can be a sign of malnutrition or undiagnosed illness or a symptom of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
- Falling injuries — Residents at risk of falling may need assistance getting out of bed or into a wheelchair, using the bathroom, going for a walk, etc. Repeated falls can be a sign that the nursing home is understaffed and that workers are ignoring call buttons or failing to take safety precautions.
What Can You Do To Prevent Abuse?
You can't always be there, but the staff takes notice of which residents have regular visitors. Spending time with your loved one and getting to know the personnel — doctors and nurses, nutritionists and cooks, aides and orderlies — goes a long way toward making sure that your parent or spouse is well cared for.
What If You Suspect Abuse Or Neglect?
If your loved one is not able to articulate what happened, ask the staff. If you are not satisfied with the answers, you should not hesitate to take action. Report suspected mistreatment to the nursing home administration and consult a lawyer who handles nursing home cases.
The attorneys of Seidman Margulis & Fairman, LLP, have brought successful actions against Chicago area nursing homes to force elder care providers to compensate our clients and change their ways. Call 312-781-1977 or contact us online.