5 Signs Your Loved One Might be the Victim of Nursing Home Neglect
- Jul 15, 2019
- By: Tom Schimmerling
The decision to place someone you’ve loved your entire life into a nursing home brings about a myriad of feelings. You feel relief knowing that the person you love is going to be cared for around the clock. At the same time you may feel guilt knowing you are unable to provide your loved one with the care he or she needs. You feel sad because your loved one can no longer care for him or herself the way they did in the past. Whether it’s simply old age and the loss of independence or a health condition that makes it necessary to consider a nursing home, it’s almost always the best option for all involved when the time comes for that difficult decision. Many families have no other options for those they love the most, and a nursing home is a safe place for your loved ones to find the care, medical attention, and help they need.
Unfortunately, some families face the horrible realization that the facility in which they placed their loved one is not a safe or happy place. It’s sad, but nursing home abuse statistics are on the rise, and it’s time families look for the signs, the red flags, and take action as soon as possible. Nursing homes can be the answer to your prayers when you find the right one for your loved ones, but the wrong facility can bring nightmares to life. Here are five of the most common signs your loved one has become the victim of nursing home abuse.
Sudden Poor Hygiene
Your loved one might not be able to take care of him or herself as well as they did when they were younger or healthier, but there is no reason your loved one should develop a lack of personal hygiene upon moving into a nursing home. In fact, their own hygiene habits should become better and more consistent. Staff should make sure your loved one is clean, their teeth are brushed, their sheets and clothing are clean, and their room should smell fresh and appear tidy. One of the most common signs of nursing home abuse is a lack of personal hygiene.
If your loved one is not clean, they smell unpleasant, their room is a mess, and their bathroom and/or bedpan situation doesn’t meet your standards, it’s a sign they are most likely not being cared for properly. There is nothing that is easier than keeping a patient clean and healthy, and that’s why this is such a major sign of abuse. If your loved one’s basic needs aren’t being met, it means there might be something else going on. It might be one or two staff members at the facility, or it might be blamed on the facility in general.
Personality and Mood Changes
You can expect some changes to your loved one’s mood when you move them into a nursing home. Some people are excited about it. Others might be very upset about their loss of independence. You know your loved one, and you know their personality and mood swings. Are they different in a drastic manner? Does your loved one seem depressed, unhappy, scared, nervous, or any other emotion that worries you? If they seem different, and they seem afraid to talk about it, it might be more than just anger and frustration over losing independence or their own ‘normal’ everyday life. It might be a case of nursing home abuse that has them afraid to speak up.
Sudden and Unexplained Weight Loss
Health issues can cause your loved one to lose weight. Moving into a nursing home where meals are healthier and a little more balanced than at home can also cause an elderly person to lose weight if their prior diet wasn’t the healthiest. However, sudden weight loss without any explanation is questionable. For example, is your loved one suffering from a health condition or taking a medication that suppresses their appetite? Both are perfectly reasonable explanations for sudden weight loss. However, a healthy person might lose a lot of weight all of a sudden, and it might seem suspicious. This is when you question what is happening. There’s no reason for your loved one to appear malnourished, and that is the time to start asking questions.
You know the person you placed in a nursing home, most likely very intimately. You know their personality, and you know how they react in certain situations. Does your loved one seem afraid? Fear is not uncommon in situations where nursing home abuse is prevalent. Your loved one might be terrified of the people coming in to help him or her. They might fear the nurses and doctors, the people who tend to them, or someone who lives there. Nursing home abuse can instill intense fear in the person being abuses, so looking at the fear in your loved one’s eyes might make you panic. It could be a sign, and you should look further into it.
Your Gut Instinct
Your gut instinct is one of the most important clues in the matter of nursing home abuse. When you visit your loved one, you should feel comfortable and confident in the care they receive. Do you feel uncomfortable in the facility your loved one now calls home? Do you have to call and schedule a time for every visit? Do you get turned away at the door if you don’t have a scheduled visit on the books? Do they let you in no matter what, or do they make you wait? Do you get a good feeling from the staff, or do they treat you poorly or make you uncomfortable?
Believe it or not, your gut instinct is relevant. If you feel uncomfortable and nervous for the health and safety of your loved one – even without any obvious signs of nursing home abuse – do not discount those feelings. Do your investigative work to see what is going on. Ask questions, demand answers, and don’t let anyone make you feel intimidated. If you feel that your loved one is being abused in any manner of speaking, contact law enforcement and attorney right away. Your loved one does not need to live through nursing home abuse.
If you feel your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, call Schimmerling Injury Law at (607) 772-5291 to speak with Tom regarding your options to make the situation right and seek compensation for your loved one.