What to Look for When a Loved One Is in a Nursing Home
When your loved ones can no longer manage their daily affairs and need nursing home care, your primary concerns will be for their safety and well-being. Unfortunately, nursing home care has become little more than a business in many facilities. In an effort to minimize expenses and maximize profits, nursing home operators often hire unqualified workers, fail to adequately staff their facilities, or provide little to no supervision or training for employees. How can you detect nursing home abuse or neglect in its early stages, so that you can take timely steps to protect a loved one?
Telltale Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Patients or residents in nursing homes can be susceptible to a wide range of abuse, from physical assault or neglect to emotional, sexual, and financial exploitation. Early warning signs often include the following:
- Physical abuse—Sudden or persistent injuries, such as bumps, bruises, cuts, or scrapes, as well as broken bones, dislocations, or burns; damage to personal items, such as eyeglasses; an unwillingness or refusal by a caregiver to allow you to be alone with the patient
- Emotional abuse—Sudden changes in mood or behavior; an unwillingness by the patient to have visitors; withdrawal by the patient from social activities; verbal abuse or demeaning behavior by the caregiver in your presence; behaviors similar to the symptoms of dementia, such as rocking or incoherent mumbling
- Sexual abuse—Sexually transmitted diseases or repeated genital infections; missing, torn, stained, or bloody underwear; black and blue marks near breasts or genitals; anal or vaginal bleeding not associated with any other medical condition
- Neglect or abandonment—Bedsores; weight loss or malnutrition; excess medication that has not been administered; personal hygiene problems, such as uncleanliness, soiled bedding or clothing, or dirty/cluttered living space; not being properly dressed for the weather; complaints from the patient about persistent thirst; falling while trying to walk or get out of bed unattended
- Financial exploitation—Missing property, including cash or gifts; changes in beneficiaries of a life insurance policy, retirement account, or property title; unexplained withdrawals from the patient’s accounts; unexplained checks drawn on a patient’s bank account; unexplained charges on a patient’s credit card; irregular or uncharacteristic purchases of goods by the patient
- Healthcare abuse—Evidence of inconsistency with administration of medication; evidence of poor medical care; inadequate staffing; duplicate bills for the same services; excessively medical testing
If you detect signs of nursing home abuse or neglect affecting a loved one, contact an attorney to find out what steps you need to take to stop the abuse and to learn whether your loved one might have a claim for damages.