It is never an easy decision to put a loved one into a nursing home. However, the promise of professional, caring staff members and around the clock care makes it a little easier. After all, your loved one is going to be in a place where they can have the attention they need and are at less risk than living alone, right? That might not be the case. Nursing homes are far from idyllic settings, and nursing home abuse is rampant today. The most common type of nursing home abuse is negligence – neglect can take many forms, and all of them can lead to serious problems for your loved one.
Forms of Nursing Home Negligence
“Gross neglect” accounted for a full 14% of complaints filed against nursing homes in 2010, and the situation has only grown worse. Numerous lawsuits have been filed over this frightening issue. For instance, a suit in Wyoming seeks $100,000 in damages for negligence in a nursing home in which a resident was injured. Another nursing home in Chicago is facing a similar lawsuit, as is a Centralia nursing home, and several others in Texas, Maryland, Illinois and many other states.
Negligence can take any number of forms, but they all lead to injuries to nursing home residents and, in some cases, even death. The most common types of nursing home negligence fall into the following categories:
Medical: Medical needs can be neglected. Patients may not receive the medications they need, or could even be given the wrong medications. Failure to treat bedsores, or provide for mobility issues also falls into this category, as does lack of care for diabetes and dementia.
Social: Social or emotional neglect implies that nursing home staff ignore the resident, and prevent them from interacting with other residents. In some instances, this is coupled with emotional or psychological abuse, such as name-calling or yelling.
Hygiene: Many nursing homes have been found guilty of neglect when it comes to providing personal hygiene and grooming for residents unable to care for themselves properly. This includes everything from bathing to brushing their teeth to doing their laundry.
Basic Needs: In some instances, nursing home negligence covers a lack of providing for a resident’s basic needs. This can include not providing the resident with enough food, enough water, or failure to maintain a clean, sanitary facility.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
To safeguard your loved one while they’re in the care of a nursing home, it is crucial to know the signs of nursing home negligence and how to spot them. The following signs and symptoms can be indications that neglect is occurring:
- Weight Loss: If your loved one is losing weight for no discernible reason, it could be due to lack of food, lack of socialization, depression and more.
- Dehydration: If your loved one is dehydrated, the nursing home may not be providing enough water.
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition is responsible for weight loss, but it can also lead to bedsores and infections.
- Bedsores: While bedsores can result from malnutrition, they’re more common with a lack of physical care for bed-bound residents (the staff does not turn them properly).
- Environmental Hazards: If the facility has multiple environmental hazards, they may be negligent. These can include wet floors, a lack of handrails, poorly maintained wheelchairs and more.
- Lack of Grooming or Care: If you notice that your loved one has not been bathed, or does not receive grooming, this can be a sign of neglect.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Negligence
If you suspect that the nursing home is being negligent with your loved one, it is important to call your state’s elder abuse hotline. The government will assign a caseworker who will interview your loved one and inspect the facility. You should also contact an elder abuse attorney to provide an overview of your case and to discuss your options. It is crucial that nursing homes be held accountable for the quality of care they provide to residents, and your loved one is no exception.