What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect is a form of elder abuse against seniors living in nursing homes. Elders receiving sub-par, inadequate, and improper care from their nursing homes can face serious health concerns. Neglect is a dangerous and one of the most frequent forms of abuse in nursing homes, which will lead to an inevitable death if not handled properly.
Families spend thousands of dollars every year for an elder to receive adequate care. Your elder’s nursing home must legally provide a safe and caring environment for your elder’s final days. Look out for these signs of elder neglect in a nursing home.
4 Signs A Nursing Home Is Neglecting An Elder
In a study of over 2000 people, 95% of nursing home residences say they’ve witnessed elder neglect. Elder neglect in nursing homes is frequently unreported because the nursing home holds complete control over the elder. Families often don’t receive reports until well after an elder has passed and it’s too late.
In the case of nursing home neglect, staff and other responsible individuals fail to give proper care to the elder either by ignoring the elder or regular protocol. This can be something as simple as not properly watching nursing home residents or more extreme instances like over-medicating.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Check your elder’s personal hygiene. Look to see if they have an odd smell, dirty skin, and hair, or unclean clothing. Your elder’s clothing will be an important detail in how the nursing home is handling them daily. Look out for:
- Ill-fitting clothing from their own weight loss or gain.
- Damaged clothing; look for tears or stains.
- Missing clothing or little clothing.
- Unclean clothing; look for odd smells and stains.
Clothing does wear over time, but your elder’s nursing home should tell you right away if your elder needs more clothing.
Rapid Physical Changes
Your elder’s body will change. Weight gain and weight loss are common with elders, especially as they begin to age. However, these changes should be gradual over the course of a few years, not a few months. If there are some concerning changes with their eating habits or medications, you should be informed right away.
Some more concerning physical changes suggesting elder neglect and abuse include:
- Untreated dental issues, lost teeth, and bad breath.
- Weight loss and weight gain.
- Jaundice (yellow skin) or pale skin.
- Recurring illnesses.
- Anemia or fatigue.
- Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, cuts, and broken bones.
- Bed sores and ulcers.
- Excessive use of restraints, or marks from restraints.
These things suggest your elder’s nursing home is neglecting to tell you about medical issues because they need to cover up their own mistakes. All these signs are also symptoms of physical abuse such as over-medicating or using excessive force.
Significant Personality Changes
Your elder may find the transition into the nursing home difficult. This is understandable and quite normal, but the nursing home should be accommodating enough to help them emotionally. Your elder’s personality changes may include:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Loss of trust or fear in others.
- Outbursts of anger or sadness.
- Insomnia or sleep loss.
- Self harm, such as causing physical harm to themselves or refusing care.
Your elder’s personality changes may be a result of neglect or emotional abuse from the nursing home staff. Your elder also has social and emotional needs like anyone else. It’s important that the nursing home also plans social events and activities that allow elder residents to establish good social connections.
Their reactions or personality changes are symptoms of not receiving proper or basic care. If your elder has issues with their day-to-day tasks and staff are refusing to help, they may fall into a deep depression. Imagine how awful you’d feel if you couldn’t change your clothes or brush your teeth in days!
Rapid Declining Health
Elders do get sick, and will eventually pass. However, their health shouldn’t suddenly change overnight. Rapidly falling into poor health suggests that the nursing home staff have either ignored issues for far too long or refuse to take your elder’s complaints seriously.
Even small complaints should be addressed. For example, let’s say an elder complains about back pain and the nursing staff ignore the issue. The elder’s back pain is actually caused by an infection the staff did not clean properly. The elder suddenly becomes immobile from the infection after an emergency trip to the doctor and develops several other health issues within a month.
Ignoring the needs or concerns of an elder often leads to untimely deaths that could have easily been prevented. Your elder still deserves a quality life, even in their final days.
Why Is Nursing Home Neglect So Bad?
A good nursing home recognizes itself as both a healthcare facility and a customer-oriented business. Nursing homes shouldn’t just simply keep elders alive, but also make life enjoyable for elders. Any complaints or incidents, regardless of fault, need to be brought to the family’s attention, immediately.
When nursing homes only think of generating money instead of a care facility, it’s often the elders who suffer the most. Some common reasons for elder neglect in a nursing home include:
- Understaffing: understaffing causes nursing home staff to be overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed from their day-to-day tasks. Tasks and duties are often missed or improperly executed when there’s not enough staff or time to get it done.
- Improper hiring: It’s incredibly neglectful of a nursing home to not conduct proper background and reference checks when hiring staff. Every nursing home should have a thorough screening process before they hire any caretaker.
- Inadequate training: As with any job, improperly or undertrained staff cannot preform tasks correctly. This can lead to even more dangerous mistakes with handling and medications.
Your elder’s nursing home legally has a duty of care to uphold. This includes ensuring staff is willing and able to care for every elder in the nursing home.
Reporting Nursing Home Neglect
Similarly to other abuse victims, you can file a report with local authorities or with an elder abuse hotline. Once you’ve made the report, call a lawyer immediately. Having an elder neglect lawyer on your side ensures all your elder’s rights are protected.
Finding A Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
Nursing home neglect lawsuits are challenging to prosecute. Oftentimes, civil liability lawsuits need direct action to prove fault. In the case of nursing home neglect, it’s the lack of action that caused harm to an elder. Elder neglect lawyers are vital in these cases to prove fault and liability against an abusive nursing home.
On average, nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months. Some may take even longer if your elder died from neglect or the at-fault party is unclear. You will need the expertise of a nursing home neglect or personal injury lawyer to pursue damages without the pricey trials.
To find a personal injury lawyer who specializes in elder abuse and nursing home neglect, call My Case Helper now. We can help you find a lawyer near you today.