Signs of Nursing Home Neglect: Main Takeaways

November 01, 2013 | Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
  • There are a number of things you should watch out for when it comes to how your loved one is being treated in a nursing home–especially when it comes to nursing home neglect and abuse, but we’ve outlined 8, which includes unexpected hospitalization, new bed sores, changes in mental health and status, fear of the nursing home staff, and frequent falls.
  • Nursing home neglect can fall into four main categories: medical neglect, neglect of basic needs, hygiene neglect, and social or emotional neglect.

Nursing Home Neglect: Top 8 Warning Signs

We entrust nursing homes and other assisted living facilities with the care of our aging parents and other loved ones who require daily help. In doing so, we believe that our loved ones are well looked after and are safe. Unfortunately, this belief can be shattered due to negligence or active abuse on the part of nursing home doctors, nurses or other staff.

If your loved one lives in a nursing home, be mindful of the following warning signs of nursing home neglect, as they are all common across various acts of abuse or negligence that happen in nursing homes:

  1. Unexpected hospitalization: Deteriorating health conditions often lead to hospitalization. In these situations, you’re prepared, as you already know your love done is not faring well. In unexpected hospitalizations, however, you have no understanding of what happened or why. While that does happen occasionally, more often than not there is an explanation. Find out what that is as soon as you can. If you cannot find answers, or you receive vague answers in response to your questions, you cannot rule out nursing home abuse or neglect.
  2. Inadequately explained bruises or fractures: Bruises and fractures are clear signs of injury. The question comes down to how your loved one suffered those injuries – by accident, by negligence or through physical abuse.
  3. New skin breakdowns/bed sores: Bedsores are almost entirely preventable with proper care. So the presence of bedsores is an indicator that your loved one might be abused and is remaining stationary for far too long, whether by someone’s cruel design or by lack of appropriate staffing levels.
  4. Changes in consciousness or mental status: Nursing home staff members sometimes use chemical restraints to make their jobs easier. One sign of this is a change in your loved one’s consciousness or mental status, ranging from a coma to a stupor to confusion. If you notice a change, take charge immediately to determine its cause and how to remedy it.
  5. Changes in sociability: Isolation is a key sign that something is wrong. If your loved one isn’t talking to anyone and isn’t joining social hours or meal times, try to get him or her to confide in you. If he or she won’t speak to you, talk to the manager or director of the nursing home about your concerns.
  6. Avoidance or fear of nursing home staff: Has your loved one stopped looking at or talking to any single staff member? Is there a look of fear in his or her eyes when a certain doctor or nurse enters the room? Does your loved one avoid talking about an individual care provider? These are all signs of potential verbal, physical or sexual abuse.
  7. Rapid weight loss: There is no clearer sign of neglect or active abuse than rapid weight loss. Under a proper care plan, your loved one should maintain his or her weight, or even gain weight. This means weight loss can signal depression, withholding of food, an improper balance of medication and treatment, and more.
  8. Frequent falls: The Nursing Home Care Reform Act of 1987 clearly states that nursing home providers must provide enough oversight and care to prevent falls. Frequent falls show that such care is lacking.

What Constitutes as Nursing Home Patient Neglect?

There are four main types of nursing home neglect, although nursing home neglect varies case by case.

  • Medical neglect: When a nursing home fails to provide proper medications for a patient or fails to prevent certain medical concerns.
  • Neglecting a patient’s basic needs: When a nursing home fails to provide a safe environment, food, water, or cleanliness.
  • Neglecting a patient’s personal hygiene: When a nursing home fails to provide proper care with a patient’s laundry, bathing, brushing their teeth, etc.
  • Social and/or emotional neglect: When the nursing home staff yells at a patient, refuses to interact with a patient, or consistently leaves them alone.

Any change in your loved one’s condition while in a nursing home may signal abuse or neglect. If your loved one starts showing any of the above signs, or if you notice another change that doesn’t have a good explanation, start asking questions. Talk to your loved one, the nurses, and the attending physicians. The key here is to be diligent at all times to make sure your mother, father, brother, sister or other loved one receives the treatment he or she needs and deserves. If you would like answers to your questions about nursing home abuse, please call or email The Rooth Law Firm at (847) 869-9100 for a free consultation.

Photo by Chalmers Butterfield