Nursing home negligence and abuse are problems not often spoken about. People tend to err on the side of trusting nursing homes to provide proper care to their loved ones. This could be a huge mistake because these issues occur at a rate greater than what most people realize.
Everyone should be aware of some of the signs of neglect and abuse. By recognizing these signs, you can try to stop the problem before it gets worse. Here are some signs that something is amiss at the long-term care facility:
- Poor personal hygiene: Overgrown nails, unwashed hair and wearing dirty clothes are signs of negligence. Body odor, including smelling like urine or feces, is another indication.
- Becoming withdrawn: Residents start to feel bored and possibly depressed due to not having proper mental stimulation. Feelings of loneliness might keep them away from others because they don't want to be a "downer."
- Monitored visits: Workers are often concerned that the resident will let visitors know they are being mistreated. They try to hover over the residents when they do have company just so they can monitor what is being said.
- Unwarranted incontinence issues: Many nursing home residents need help with basic toileting. When they don't get the help at all or in a timely manner, accidents occur. This can lead to them being left in their own urine or feces until someone comes to help them get cleaned up.
- Changes in mental state: Residents may be given medications to try to control their behavior or they might not be monitored properly for side effects and interactions of medications. These residents can experience disorientation, confusion, sleepiness, drowsiness or worse side effects.
- Decline in medical status: Not getting proper nutrition or hydration can lead to problems like dehydration and malnutrition. Often, these are coupled with lax care and insufficient medical monitoring, which exacerbates the problem.
- Unexplained injuries: Broken bones, bruises, scratches and bedsores are all signs of negligence or abuse. Sometimes, family members are told that the resident has fallen. Since nursing home staff should have residents with a high risk of falling and who have fallen in the past on a special fall prevention protocol, this is a serious problem. Bedsores are a sign that the resident isn't being turned in bed or transferred to and from wheelchairs and beds properly.
If you notice any of these signs, you should address them immediately. Filing complaints is a good start. The resident might also opt to take legal action to recover damages suffered due to the abuse or neglect.