Watch for Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
December 5, 2019
Up to one in six nursing home residents could suffer abuse or neglect this year. That is why it is so important for families to do their research when selecting a residential care facility for an elderly loved one.
Once you select a facility, you need to know the signs of abuse or neglect so you can spot it and do something about it. Your loved one may be afraid or too ashamed to tell you what is going on. Your loved one may also be unable to tell you what is going on because of cognitive limitations from a medical condition he or she is suffering from.
Below, learn more about how to spot abuse or neglect of your loved one and how to do your research when trying to find a place to take care of your elderly loved one.
Researching Nursing Homes
One of the first things you can do before even visiting nursing homes is review them on Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare website. You can type in the name of a nursing home and receive the latest information on the facility, including inspection reports and star ratings on different metrics, including health inspections, staffing and overall quality. Facilities are given a rating of between one and five stars on these different metrics, with one being the lowest rating and five being the highest.
You can see the number of complaints against a facility in the last few years, health citations, results of fire safety inspections, registered nurse hours per day, physical therapist hours, and many metrics.
When you visit facilities, watch for any signs of neglect or abuse of residents. If you see anything when you are visiting, things could be much worse when you are not there.
You should also listen for phones ringing. Does it take a long time for phone calls to be answered? Are there slip and fall hazards in the hallway? Do staff members look stressed because there are not enough of them working?
You can ask if there is a lot of staff turnover. High turnover could mean something is wrong at the facility. Maybe staff members are overworked because they need more help than they are getting.
You can make multiple visits to a facility. Sometimes it is good to make unannounced visits. That way they are not prepared for you and you can get a better idea of how things really operate on a day-to-day basis.
Red Flags That May Indicate Abuse or Neglect
Abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident often leaves physical evidence that loved ones can see when they visit the resident.
Signs of Physical Abuse
For example, if your loved one suffered some form of physical abuse, you may notice bruises, cuts, abrasions or burns.
These could be from various forms of physical abuse, including:
Physical injuries are particularly concerning when the resident cannot explain them or seems afraid to talk about them. Your loved one may be afraid to say something out of fear of retribution from the abuser.
Signs of Neglect
There are other types of physical injuries that could indicate neglect. For instance, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries or head injuries from a fall could be signs of neglect.
Your loved one may have required assistance to walk or get up from a sitting position. If assistance did not come quickly enough, your loved one may have become impatient and decided to try to get up or walk on his or her own and fallen.
Sometimes residents trip over things in their rooms or in hallways, and those things should have been moved out of the way. There may have been fewer obstacles if there were more staff members or the staff members who were there were doing their jobs.
Other signs of neglect could include malnutrition, dehydration, dirty or unclean living conditions, poor hygiene, overdoses on medication or other kinds of medication errors, or bed sores. Bed sores are often the result of a failure to move a resident who was laying or sitting in one position for an extended period.
Changes in Behavior or Emotional State
While it is very important to look for tangible evidence of abuse or neglect, you should also take note of your loved one’s emotional state and behavior around you.
Is your loved one socially isolated or afraid around certain staff members? Is your loved one unusually angry, sad or depressed?
If your loved one is unusually tired, he or she could have been a victim of a medication error that leaves him or her feeling sedated.
When you visit your loved one, ask direct questions about their safety and well-being. Examples of direct questions could include:
- What did you eat today?
- Are you getting enough water?
- Are you being treated with respect?
- Has anyone asked for financial information?
- Are you receiving the assistance you need (personal hygiene, walking, etc.)
- Has anyone else come to visit you since the last time we were here?
Ask staff members about injuries or changes in your loved one. If they do not know about an injury or seem defensive, they may be hiding something.
Check the log books to see who has visited your loved one. Even family members could be abusers ”“ family members are responsible for an overwhelming majority of elder abuse. People with a history of substance abuse or mental illness are also more likely to become abusers.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Abuse? Call Phillips Law Group Today
The Phoenix nursing home abuse lawyers at Phillips Law Group offer a free consultation to discuss your loved one’s abuse or neglect. You may be able take legal action to pursue compensation for damages suffered by your loved one.
Call to schedule a free consultation. 1-800-706-3000
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