When selecting a nursing home facility for your loved one, the intent is to find the best facility committed to providing the finest care to your loved elders. But often, this thought does not become a reality, and you end up selecting a nursing home where neglect and abuse are common. According to an Office of Inspector General report, one in five visits to ER from a nursing home facility is due to abuse.
Nursing home abuse is a sad reality of communities and societies today; many elders face this abuse daily. The worst part is most of the nursing home abuse cases go unreported, complicating the matter even more.
One way the family of a nursing home resident can find out about nursing home abuse is by visiting their loved ones frequently. They can look for signs of mental, physical, and emotional abuse and take action.
If your loved one is residing in a nursing home, you can look for the following signs of abuse and save your loved one from mental and physical trauma.
Signs of caregiver neglect
One of the ways nursing home staff abuse their residents is by neglecting their caregiver services. Some signs of caregiver neglect are mentioned below.
Some residents are so ill that they cannot move their bodies independently and need a caregiver to turn their sides. However, a caregiver neglecting their duty can result in issues like bedsores, etc.—a clear sign of nursing home abuse.
Bedsores happen when a specific part of the skin comes under so much pressure that proper blood flow to this part is blocked. Lack of movement makes the skin weak and vulnerable to injury, resulting in bedsores. It is easier to treat bedsores stage 1 skin condition— at this point, they are represented by skin redness.
Those who become vulnerable to bedsores must be given special attention. When it does not happen, their condition worsens. As bedsores proceed from one stage to another, they become more serious. Stage 4 (last stage) bedsores can result in life-threatening infections.
- Unsuitable dressing for the weather
Elders become very sensitive to changes in temperature, so they must be provided with the right type of clothing when the weather changes.
In winter, they must be provided with warm clothes to protect their weak body from the effects of cold weather. And in the summer, they need light clothing to prevent rashes due to sweating.
However, if you find your loved one is frequently inadequately dressed for the weather, consider it a type of caregiver neglect too. In this situation, you should immediately approach the management. If they don’t take action, don’t hesitate to approach the nursing home ombudsperson.
- Weight loss or dehydration
Your loved one losing weight or showing signs of dehydration means they are not getting food and fluids on time. The nursing home staff must ensure that every resident is well-fed and that they are taking enough water during the day. Their neglect in this respect will result in poor hygiene and unnecessary weight loss of your loved one.
Signs of physical abuse
One of the most apparent nursing home abuses is physical abuse. Any violence directed at the residents of a nursing home is called physical abuse. Some forms of physical abuse include slapping, kicking, shoving, etc. Signs of physical abuse are the following:
- Broken bones and fractures
Fractures and broken bones are common signs of physical abuse in a nursing home. Elders often don’t have perfect balance; therefore, the chances of getting an injury from falls and slips are very likely.
Unnecessary shoving and pushing can also result in falls. But if the nursing home staff takes care of their residents and treats them kindly, these accidents will reduce considerably.
Falls and fractures can be very dangerous for the elderly. A bone broken in the hip can be fatal for an older person. Therefore, nursing home staff must take full care of their residents to avoid embroiling themselves in physical abuse cases.
Nursing staff must ensure the safety of their vulnerable residents by providing walkers, wheelchairs, and other aids. Caregivers should be ready to assist the elderly in getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet, walking, etc.
- Unexplained bruises
Older adults have delicate and thin skin; therefore, their chances of getting bruises are more than a young person. However, bruises are often a sign of neglect, especially if their occurrence is too recurrent.
If you see bruises on your loved one’s body, you must enquire about the events that led to them. If they are due to unexplained reasons, the nursing home management will try to sweep the matter under the carpet. This is your cue for seeking legal help against them.
- Overdose or incorrect medication
Overdose or incorrect medication can be detrimental to the health of your loved one. At the very least, it shows that the nursing home staff neglected the health of your loved ones, and they were not a hundred percent in their service delivery. Some errors the nursing home staff might commit regarding the administration of medicine include:
- Providing water on an empty stomach
- Providing medicine at the wrong time
- Providing expired medications
- Crushing pills when there is no need
- Sedating patients
One of the common forms of nursing home abuse is sedating residents for the sole purpose of putting them to sleep and avoiding tending to them. Sedating residents when it is not medically required can harm the elderly.
Signs that your elderly are sedated incorrectly include changes in their behavior, lack of balance, confusion, memory loss, lack of attention, drowsiness, and so on.
Signs of emotional abuse
Emotional abuse might not be very apparent. Therefore, you need to pay more attention to changes in their behavior. Some signs of emotional abuse are the following:
- Withdrawn behavior
If your loved ones seem disinterested in activities they used to enjoy and don’t mingle with other residents, they might be victims of emotional abuse.
Withdrawn behavior is not always a sign of abuse, but in some cases, it is. So, you cannot eliminate this possibility. Consider it a red flag and look for other signs of abuse to corroborate your fears.
- Crying recurrently
Constant crying often shows that your loved one is mentally and emotionally unstable. The nursing home can be a reason for the constant crying of your loved one. Try to talk to them, and ask the reasons. If they don’t share, it might be because they are threatened with dire consequences for disclosing any details of abuse inflicted on them.
Your loved one might be facing nursing home abuse, and you might not know about it. They can be under depression and avoid telling you anything. Therefore, often the responsibility lies on you to look for the signs of any misbehavior or abuse happening with your loved ones. You must be vigilant about the above signs when visiting your loved one.