Having a loved one enter a nursing home involves placing trust in its staff members. You assume they will care for your loved one in the manner they should. Unfortunately, this common – and reasonable – expectation of loved ones isn’t always grounded in reality.
Anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home should become familiar with the signs of abuse and neglect so they can act if they notice anything amiss.
Resident becomes withdrawn
If your loved one starts to withdraw from social activities, avoids conversations or seems reluctant to interact with staff or other residents, this could be a sign of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. In some cases, the issue might be that the staff member who’s being abusive is watching them to see if they say anything about what’s going on.
Look out for any unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or fractures. These injuries may be the result of physical abuse, neglect or accidents that have not been properly addressed by the nursing home staff. Frequent falls may also occur, which could signal neglect if the staff members aren’t taking care of residents who struggle with a heightened risk of falling.
Sudden weight loss or malnutrition
A sudden decline in weight or signs of malnutrition, such as dehydration or poor skin quality, could indicate that your family member is not receiving proper care. This may be due to neglect or inadequate attention to their dietary needs.
Frequent infections or illnesses
Frequent infections or illnesses, particularly if they are not promptly and adequately treated, could be a sign of poor hygiene and neglect. This may include bedsores, respiratory infections or urinary tract infections.
Changes in behavior or mood
Watch for any changes in your loved one’s behavior or mood, such as increased agitation, anxiety or depression. These changes could indicate that they are experiencing emotional or psychological abuse, or that their needs are not being met.
Residents who have an unkempt appearance might be victims of abuse or neglect. Staff members should help residents with self-care, including hygiene and dressing. Dirty or stained clothing, messy hair and wearing outfits unsuitable for the current circumstances are some signs to watch for.
Taking action when you see signs of nursing home abuse is crucial. Residents shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of the people who are supposed to care for them. Taking legal action is a possibility in these cases, so consider that carefully.