Nursing home neglect, also referred to as elder abuse, is a serious problem. According to the latest statistics, more than 40 million people over the age of 65 within the U.S. experience abuse or neglect, most at the hands of caregivers. Nursing home neglect comes in different forms, including:
- Social/Emotional Neglect – Patient is repeatedly ignored, isolated, or yelled at by staff.
- Basic Needs Neglect – Patient is deprived of reasonable food, water, cleanliness, and safety.
- Personal Hygiene Neglect – Patient does not receive adequate assistance with personal hygiene and laundry.
- Medical Neglect – Patient is not provided with adequate prevention, attention, or medication for diabetes, cuts, infections, bedsores, mobility issues, and cognitive diseases.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Some forms of neglect are minor, making them extremely difficult to identify while others are blatant. If you are thinking about putting a loved one in a nursing home or already have a family member living in a facility, you want to watch for the following.
- Weight loss from stress or malnutrition
- Injuries from falls
- Bruises and cuts
- Staff inattention
- Behavioral changes in the patient
- Changes in personal hygiene or appearance
- Environmental hazards, including slippery floors, poor lighting, and broken mobility equipment or furniture
Unfortunately, many patients do not have the physical or mental capacity to report incidences of abuse or neglect, so it is imperative that you serve as your family member’s eyes and ears.
Taking Appropriate Action
Primarily watch for bedsores, dehydration, and malnutrition, but if you suspect any problem, take action. You need to discuss any concerns with the nursing home director, not other staff members. It is the director’s job to ensure the safety and care of every resident. If you get no resolution, you will want to remove your family member from the facility to a safer location, even if on a temporary basis.
If neglect or abuse has occurred, it is also important that you contact a reputable personal injury attorney. Look for an attorney who specializes in the area of nursing home neglect. This professional will have a full understanding of the laws in your state as well as boast experience and expertise specific to nursing home lawsuits.
A reputable attorney will determine if there is proof that the nursing home provided inadequate or substandard care leading to psychological or physical injury. As part of this, the attorney will speak to senior management and staff, research any state investigations, identify other complaints, and more. If there is cause for action, a lawsuit will be filed against the facility on your and the patient’s behalf.
If you win the lawsuit, you can use the settlement to ensure your loved one receives better care in a different facility or perhaps care within your own home. Not only will a lawsuit help your beloved family member, it will force the nursing home to make significant changes that will ultimately benefit other patients.