When your loved one moves into a nursing home, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. You are entrusting the care of someone very important to you to a complete stranger, and you can only hope you’ve made a wise choice. No one wants to believe that a loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect. But sadly, these dreadful acts occur quite frequently. It is important to be aware of the warning signs to ensure that your family member receives the best care possible. Emotional Abuse This can take on many different forms, including verbal threats, nasty comments, and social isolation from peers. The following warning signs are an indication that your loved one may be experiencing mental abuse:
• being upset or agitated
• unusual behavior
• isolation from peers
Physical Abuse Injuries resulting from physical abuse can be very serious since elderly people are often very fragile. Frequent or poorly explained injuries can be a surefire sign of abuse. Examples of physical abuse include:
Sexual Abuse Nursing home residents are easy targets for sexual abuse because they are frequently weak and defenseless. Some elderly people also have communication problems, making them even easier targets. Examples of sexual abuse include:
• inappropriate touching
• sexually explicit photographing
Victims of sexual abuse may exhibit unusual behavior similar to what you observe from victims of emotional abuse. Be on the lookout for these warning signs. Neglect The primary cause of nursing home neglect is understaffing. Approximately 54% of nursing homes are understaffed for nurse’s aides, 23% don’t have enough licensed staff, and 31% lack enough registered nurses to care for their residents. The most common examples of neglect in nursing homes include:
• bed injuries
• bed sores
• falls and fractures
Spotting Signs of Neglect The following actions will help you detect signs of neglect at your loved one’s nursing home. By being aware of the conditions at the nursing home, you can prevent your family member from suffering needlessly.
1. Observe other residents. Talk to others in the nursing home, especially those who are wheelchair bound and bedridden. Check to see if there are differences in grooming, skin quality, and oral care compared to more highly functioning residents.
2. Watch for foul smells. Halls, rooms, and residents shouldn’t smell like urine and feces. If they do, it’s most likely a sign that residents aren’t being changed frequently enough.
3. Visit at different times of the day. Nursing homes are best staffed in the morning. Make sure to visit during the evenings and weekends, when staffing is more sparse, to observe differences in care.
4. Observe meal times. See how much time aides spend feeding residents who need assistance. Is one aide bouncing back and forth between many residents or does each resident get proper attention?
If your elderly loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect Houston, Texas, contact the law firm of Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P. today.