One thing that most of us have in common is that at some point in our lives, we may have a loved one that needs continual care that we are no longer able to personally provide for them. In these situations, we will look to a nursing home to provide the care that our loved one needs. You trust that the nursing home will provide your family member with the very best care that they need and deserve.
You would never dream that you would have to consider that your loved one may be the victim of abuse or neglect at the hands of their caregivers. However, as the elder population continues to increase, so does the number of incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Since nursing home abuse and neglect is more common than you might think, you should be aware of the signs or clues that could mean your loved one is not being cared for properly. Many times our loved ones, because of medical conditions, may not be able to communicate what is happening to them in the nursing home. It is very important to be observant when you visit your family member, to see if there is a breakdown in the care your loved one is receiving.
Try to visit your loved one as often as possible and vary the times of your visit. When you visit your loved one, see if there are changes in him or her physically or emotionally. Make sure your family member, if able, is being included in social activities at the nursing home and not being ignored and left to themselves. It is important that your loved one is still engaging in social activities if they are able.
Look at your family member’s physical condition. If you notice any unexplained bruises or restraint marks, parched- looking lips, sores on his or her ankles, heels, shoulders, elbows, lower back and buttocks (any body part that has had pressure applied for long periods of time), poor personal hygiene, odors of feces or urine, or severe weight loss, make sure these issues are being addressed immediately as they could be signs of neglect or abuse.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect there are several avenues you can look to for help. Of course, if your loved one is in immediate danger, contact 911. Also, there are federal and state governmental agencies that you can contact regarding abuse or neglect, like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging. The agencies can lead you to other resources such as the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
If your loved one has been seriously injured as the result of a nursing home’s abuse or neglect, call the law firm of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz. We have a specialized Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Practice Group that can answer questions and try to assist with your concerns. Typically, the elderly and disabled are the least likely to speak for themselves about the abuse or neglect they are experiencing, so it is important that someone is looking out for their best interests and seeing that justice is met for them.