There are homes that provide quality care to their residents. However, there are some that permit abuse and neglect to occur. Loved ones need to stay vigilant about checking on relatives in nursing homes. Only then can they spot potential signs of abuse and neglect.
Here are some probable signs of home abuse:
Bad Personal Hygiene
It is likely for the elderly people to lack the physical or mental ability to properly groom themselves, bathe or tend to other aspects of their personal hygiene. They might just have to rely on nurses and aides for this assistance. However, in case nursing home residents are neglected, these minimal tasks may not be completed. The elderly individual might try to tend to these tasks on his or her own. Bad personal hygiene might be a surefire indicator that the nursing home is understaffed or that aides are not properly trained. It can also be an indicator of potential abuse. After all, it shows that the aide does not care about the elderly individual. So, make sure to look for signs of unwashed hair, body order, the smell of urine or feces and dirty clothes.
It is required for nursing homes to comply with federal and state laws pertaining to sanitary conditions. Remember that nursing homes are responsible for making sure the environment is safe, clean and maintained in a way to ease off the possibility of infection.
Unexpected Physical bruises or injuries of any other type
This is a sure-shot indicator of abuse. Remember that nursing home staff that is overwhelmed or stressed may lash out at vulnerable older adults. They might try to physically harm the patient by pushing, scratching, hitting, biting or pinching the patient. The elderly individual may suddenly have broken bones from a fall that was unexpected.
Poor use of restraints to keep a resident from moving around can also be physical abuse. Most of the head injuries or fall injuries may occur when a nursing home resident attempts to do things for themselves.
Issues related to toileting
In case your loved one has suddenly become incontinent or more “accidents” are reported, consider whether his or her basic needs are not being addressed properly. Keep in mind that frequent urinary tract infections may be due to failure to properly help a resident mobilize.
Occurrence of Bedsores
Bedsores can be stopped by the frequent rotation of immobile patients. At the time when patients develop bedsores, this might indicate that they did not have proper assistance.
It is the duty of the nursing home staff to provide healthy meals and hydration for their residents. In case an elderly individual is not getting adequate nutrition or hydration, medical conditions can occur. Abuse might be present when food or water is withheld from an elderly individual as a disciplinary tactic. These characteristics might indicate neglect due to factors such as a lack of training, understaffing or lack of oversight. Make sure to ask about any rapid weight loss or signs of dehydration.
Zero or reduced Mobility
Most of the nursing home residents are immobile. In case your loved one’s mobility has declined since residing in the nursing home, it might be a sign that there is not enough personalized time with the resident. Also, the resident may not be being given the use of a walking program.
Increased number of falls
Most of the older individuals are at a huge risk for falling because of medications, balance problems and the weakening of bones and joints. Nursing homes need to provide an in-depth fall risk assessment when the resident arrives at the nursing home.
A lot of Confusion
When a loved one is more confused than usual, it might be the result of being overly medicated. This can also be a sign of the possibility that nursing home staff is not properly monitoring the patient.
Bad Mental health
In case your loved one has a change in personality out of the blue, this may be due to abuse or neglect. Also, be alarmed if your loved one shows signs of excessive emotions. Your loved one might suddenly appear fearful, agitated, embarrassed, upset or angry due to physical, sexual or emotional abuse such as being ridiculed, bullied, ignored or threatened with punishment. Also, one needs to keep in mind that a loved one who has suddenly withdrawn from favorite activities may be silently suffering. There are many families that seek out a nursing home only when a health emergency forces them to.
What to do once you discover home abuse?
Make sure to take note
When you observe signs of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, you should ask your loved one about the situation. Even patients who are mentally capable of recognizing the problem and telling someone about it may be reluctant to do so. This can be due to fear of retribution from the abuser. It can also be due to a misplaced sense of loyalty to nursing home staff, not wanting to be seen as a complainer etc.
Your first step is to discuss this with the facility manager or supervisor. At least, you should leave a note and then follow up with a telephone call at the earliest opportunity.
Call 911 when you have reason to believe the resident’s life is in instant danger. However, if that is not the case, you should confront the nursing home’s administration first.
Though you are not taking legal action, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty still applies. It is vital that you address the manager or supervisor calmly and professionally. You can allow this person to offer explanations or offer to investigate your concerns.
You should contact the appropriate state agency and file a complaint. Keep in mind that every state has an Adult Protective Services department. This way you can find this information on the website of the National Council on Aging. You can also contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to get your case handled properly.