Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home facility is a difficult decision that needs to be thoroughly researched. Despite your diligence in choosing a qualified nursing home or elder care facility, you should beware of the signs of nursing home abuse. When you discover that your loved ones are suffering from nursing home abuse, then you might need to contact a lawyer, such as Hardison& Cochran, that will help you take any necessary legal action. The following are some things to watch out for:
Happy female caretaker assisting senior man in using Zimmer frame at nursing home yard
- New wounds or scars on the skin
These could be from a fall, or from overly tight restraint, or from rough handling by the staff. As we age, our skin thins out and becomes delicate, easily bruising or tearing. Our elderly loved ones need gentle handling to avoid injury.
- From Overly tight restraint
Restraints are used to prevent falls, and to prevent a person with Alzheimer’s, for instance, from wandering off the premises and becoming lost or hurt on the street. There’s a correct way to use a restraint, but if it’s put on too tightly, it can cause bruising, or break the skin.
- From Rough handling.
Sometimes nursing home staff are overworked and become too tired, or too impatient. That’s a possible explanation for rough handling, but not a justification of it. A tight grip on an elderly person’s arm can cause bruising and pain and even in more extreme cases a broken bone. But perhaps the elderly person is unable to speak well enough to object, or perhaps they feel intimidated.
- Pressure sores.
Some elderly people have difficulty turning themselves while in bed, or are entirely unable to do it because of having had a stroke, for instance. The staff is required to turn them at least every two hours and if this isn’t done, the continual pressure on one place wears down the skin, causing an open sore known as a decubitus ulcer. This is usually on a hip or near the coccyx. If it isn’t treated immediately, it will enlarge and deepen and potentially become infected. It can even enter the bone tissue. These sores are preventable by good care.
- Depression or anxiety.
When you visit your loved one in the nursing home, you can gauge their mood each time, and if they appear to be more depressed, you can ask them what’s troubling them. If their speech is intact, you may learn at once what the problem is and can rectify it. But if their speech is impaired, they may not be able to tell you.
- Weight loss.
Many elderly people lose weight rather than gaining it, as a function of advancing age. But if you notice that your loved one starts losing weight more than you would expect, it could be that for some reason they’ve lost their appetite, or that food is being withheld. Why would food be withheld? Either from laziness and neglect, or as an inappropriate punishment. In either case, you’d be wise to check into what’s happening.
If you feel your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, you need to ensure their safety. After your investigation of the abuse with the elder care facility administrator and attending doctor you should tell the patients primary care physician about your suspicion of abuse as well as your family and report the abuse to Police. Elder abuse is a crime with both criminal and civil penalties. There are a lot of factors that go into this type of lawsuit and it is not a battle that can be fought effectively without proper representation.