It’s always a tough decision to place someone you love in a nursing home, but at the very least you expect for him or her to be cared for well. You certainly never expect for the nursing home staff to neglect, or worse, abuse their patients.
Sadly, nursing home abuse is a heartbreaking reality for thousands of grandparents, parents and other vulnerable people throughout the country. If you or someone you know has a loved one in a nursing home, paying attention to these four signs can help you spot neglect and abuse, and help keep nursing homes safe and comfortable like they should be.
1. Has your loved one experienced significant physical changes or shifts in emotion?
Moving to a new home is often a stressful proposition, and some mood swings are to be expected. However, if grandpa is consistently more agitated, is less willing to participate in things than should be normal, or is more fearful and jumpy than usual, this may indicate abuse or neglect by the nurses and staff of the home.
Symptoms of physical abuse by staff will often take the form of bruises or skin tears that seem unfamiliar, especially in areas that are not easily visible or normally covered by clothing.
2. Does your loved one seem dehydrated or malnourished?
Be mindful of surprising weight loss or changes in sleeping habits that may indicate staff is not treating your loved one with the care he or she deserves. If you suspect that grandma is not receiving proper nutrition or enough fluids regularly, this should be a huge red flag. While it is possible that neglect or abuse is not taking place, it’s better to act out of care for you loved one than wait around to find out.
3. Are your questions answered directly?
If you have concerns about the kind of care that your loved one is receiving, do not hesitate to ask questions that give staff the opportunity to calm you fears without letting on too much that you suspect they may be harming their patients. Questions like, “My dad seems to be losing weight, can you tell me about his meal plan?” give the staff the opportunity to address your concerns but do not outright accuse them of wrongdoing. If your questions are met with evasive answers, you should consider taking action quickly.
4. Does your loved one complain about a specific nurse or staff member?
It is not uncommon for some members of a nursing home staff to be unpopular with patients, but if your grandma consistently says things like, “I don’t want Betty to care for me anymore,” this could be a sign of serious abuse or neglect. Any statements made about a specific member of the caretaking personnel should be addressed immediately.
While these signs may not necessarily indicate that your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, you owe it to yourself and your family member in their care to investigate the possibilities. If you suspect that someone you love is being abused in a nursing home, you should contact a qualified attorney who can help prepare an effective personal injury or medical malpractice claim and ensure that the ones you love have their rights protected.