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Nursing Home Abuse: What to Look For

There are currently over 3.2 million adults living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the United States. While most of these elders are well cared for, many become victims of abuse. In fact, about 1 in 6 nursing home residents may be the victim of abuse or neglect every year. Additionally, about 1 in 3 nursing homes have been cited for violations that had the potential to cause harm to its residents. Sadly, about 10% of all nursing homes have violations that caused actual harm, serious injury, or placed a resident in jeopardy of death. There are many different types of elder abuse including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, and sexual.

If you have a parent, grandparent, or loved one who is currently living in a nursing home or long-term care facility and you are worried about abuse or neglect, there are a couple of signs to look for. According to Zavodnick, Zavodnick, & Lasky, LLC, some of the tell tale signs of nursing home abuse are a sudden decline in health, unexplained bruises or markings on skin, bedsores, and visible cuts on the body. Nursing home abuse is also especially harmful to the patient’s mental health. If your loved one has become reclusive or refuses to speak, eat, or take medications they may be a victim of abuse. Some victims of abuse will not show physical or emotional symptoms, so it is also important to observe the relationship between your loved one and their caregiver at the nursing home facility.

Preventing elder abuse includes three steps: listening to seniors and their caregivers, intervening when you suspect abuse, and educating others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.

The Most Prevalent Cases of Neglect in Nursing Home Facilities

Negligence in nursing homes refers to failure on the part of nursing home staff to provide the type of care necessitated by residents (proper care depends on each resident’s specific needs).

The most prevalent cases of neglect in nursing home facilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of proper care. Bedridden patients and those who spend many hours in wheelchairs are the most often victims of this type of neglect. Being unable to move, a patient can develop bedsores and other ailments if not repositioned after from time to time.
  • Failure to properly manage medication. Improper medication management by nursing home staff members can be potentially fatal for some patients. Some of the ways through which this type of neglect can be committed include: ignoring medication orders; incorrect time, duration, or rate of elder medication administration; incorrect medical product, strength of product, or form of product; medication overdose; and medication dose omission or under dose.
  • Malnutrition: Failure to provide meals or meals that have the right amount of nutrients can lead to health issues for some patients.
  • Isolation: This happens when a patient is forgotten or purposely left alone by restraining him/her, isolating him/her from others or by keeping others away from him/her.
  • Dehydration: This happens due to failure to ensure proper liquid intake.

Three major contributory factors to acts of negligence and abuses in nursing homes are understaffing, negligent hiring and failure to provide those hired with adequate training about nursing home care. Despite total awareness (by nursing home facility administrators) of these contributory factors, more than 90% of nursing homes in the U.S. remain to be understaffed, those with criminal records continue to be hired, and may of those hired are not given any training at all.

When your neglected loved ones in nursing homes suffer serious or fatal injuries you can pursue legal action not only against the perpetrator of the abusive acts or acts of negligence, but also against the owner and/or administrator of the facility for failure the keep his/her facility free from any injurious treatment.