November 23, 2021
Is It Abuse or Neglect? 6 Red Flags to Watch for in a Nursing Home
Nursing home abuse happens in every state. Whether it’s from overworked staff, under-funded facilities, or simply the wrong people entrusted to care for the elderly, nursing home abuse can happen even in the seemingly nicest of places. While nursing home abuse is still the exception and not the rule, watch out for these six red flags:
Your relative is hungry, unwashed, and/or not medicated.
These are obvious signs of elder neglect, especially if your relative is at a facility to get help with these things. A nursing home should have a plan in place to meet your relative’s needs, and if there are problems meeting these needs, then someone should be notified right away.
Your relative seems afraid of or unusually deferential to certain staff members.
There’s no reason an adult should be afraid of another adult in their own home. If your relative is not usually meek but has grown sheepish around the nursing home staff, or seems consistently afraid of the same person, there’s something wrong. The nursing home staff and residents should be treating each other with respect. Fear isn’t respect.
Overworked staff/understaffed/untrained staff.
A nursing home needs doctors, nurses, and nurse’s assistants who are attentive and allowed to work to the best of their ability. If the nursing home staff seems incompetent, unknowledgeable, reluctant, or overwhelmed, that’s a problem that will only get worse with time. The staff should be able to meet your relative’s needs as they arise.
Unexplained Bruises or Injuries.
While it’s possible that an elderly person is more delicate and prone to accidental injury, a nursing home should be designed to lessen the possibility of accidents and injuries. If your relative has an accident, you should be notified and there should be a report. However, too many “accidents” and injuries, small or large, may be the result of someone hurting your relative.
Your relative is either very distant now or doesn’t want you to leave.
Abuse victims may withdraw from social activities, especially if they feel ashamed of what’s happening. They may feel that the abuse is their fault. They may also be afraid of what the abuser will do if the abuse is discovered or afraid of not being believed. Disabled seniors with cognitive problems may be dismissed when they complain about abuse. However, your loyalty is with your relative, not the nursing home.
Alternatively, your relative may become unusually clingy. If they seem fearful of you leaving them, then there’s probably a reason for that, especially if they want you to be in close physical proximity.
As with all abuse cases, file a police report. Then, speak to an elder law attorney. Your attorney can offer guidance, connect you with administrative staff from other facilities where you may be interested in moving your loved one to, or refer you to an injury attorney should a lawsuit become necessary. If you are experiencing a situation like this currently and you’d like to discuss your concerns, please contact our elder law firm to schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney
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