Spot the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse: 6 Red Flags to Watch For

Having a loved one live in a nursing home can be a great way to ensure they get the care they need. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes, or nursing home employees, have the best interest of their residents at heart. Nursing home abuse and neglect can be intentional, or the result of things like understaffing and poor training. Whatever the cause, it is important that you know what to look for so you can react quickly if your loved one is being abused or neglected.

One difficult thing about this type of mistreatment is that many of the signs of trouble can also be caused by disease or old age. This means loved ones need to be especially vigilant and know what to look for, and what to do, to help identify and stop any type of abuse or neglect. The following are some of the most common warning signs of trouble in nursing homes and long term care facilities.

Weight Loss

Many conditions make people lose their appetite, or even unable to eat on their own. Nursing home staff should be trained to identify these issues, and take the necessary steps to ensure those in their care are getting sufficient nutrition. If your loved one is losing weight, it is important to identify the cause. If there is a medical reason for it, doctors should be able to explain the cause. If there is no known cause, it is definitely a reason to be concerned, and something that justifies further investigation.

Unexpected Bruising

Those in nursing homes are often quite frail and may bruise more easily than others. Nursing home professionals, however, should be trained on how to work with these patients to avoid any type of injury. If your loved one has unexpected or unexplained bruising, it could be a sign of abuse. With physical abuse, it could be intentional physical abuse, or incompetent staff at the facility. In either case, steps need to be taken to ensure it stops.

Missing or Stolen Possessions

Personal possessions are often very important to those who are living in long term care facilities. When leaving their homes, they will take special items that they want or need with them in their new residence. If these types of things start coming up missing, it should not be ignored. This is especially true if the missing possessions are valuable.

Use of Restraints

It is sometimes necessary to use restraints to ensure the safety of those living in a nursing home. This could be something as simple as guard rails on the bed, cuffs, or other items to hold a person in place. If your loved one needs to be restrained in any way, the staff should explain the reasoning behind the need. They should also be using the minimal level of restraint possible to keep your loved one safe. It is neglectful to use restraints simply because they are the easiest option for the staff.

Inattention of Staff

One of the biggest benefits of living in a nursing home is that the patient will be receiving the care that they need. Nursing home staff should be checking up on each patient on a regular basis, and providing for their needs. If you notice that meals aren’t being given at the proper times, medication arrives earlier or later than expected, or the staff just doesn’t check in as often as they should, it may be a sign of neglect.

Sudden Change in Behavior

If your loved one suddenly has a change in behavior, make sure to look into the potential cause. Sometimes it is caused by an advancement of a condition such as dementia. Other times, however, it could be their reaction to some type of abuse. Talking with the doctors, and seeking a second opinion if necessary, is important for confirming why behavioral changes occur.

Consult an Attorney

If you suspect abuse, or have confirmed it is occurring, get your loved one to safety right away. Once they are safe, contact John M. Totten, Attorney At Law to talk about your options. Taking legal action against a nursing home will not only help provide resources for the help your loved one needs, but can also bring the problem to the attention of others so they don’t experience the same issues.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.