As hard as it is to believe, nursing home abuse is a major problem in the world today. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, 1 in 6 nursing home residents was abused by a caretaker in some form or another. Whereas some of these individuals suffered physically, others suffered emotionally, financially, and even sexually.
Is one of your loved ones in a nursing home? If so, you have to know the signs that abuse might be happening. Failure to notice these signs could have major consequences.
So, without further ado, here are 10 signs of nursing home abuse.
1. Your Loved One Has Incurred Visible Injuries
Due to their deteriorating conditions, nursing home residents are more prone to injury than are others. As such, it is not uncommon for them to suffer bruises and broken bones unexpectedly.
However, while these injuries are often caused by falls and other mishaps, they are sometimes caused by their caretakers. For this reason, when said injuries appear, you must scrutinize them carefully.
Try to gauge your loved one’s mood. Is he or she quieter than usual? Does his or her personality change around a specific member of the staff? If the answer is yes, there’s a decent chance that those injuries came at that staff member’s hand.
2. Your Loved One Has Bed Sores
Another sign to look out for is the existence of bedsores. Bedsores come about due to sitting in a chair or lying in bed in one position for too long. So, if your loved one has bedsores, it is most likely because he or she is not being moved around as needed.
This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the nursing home staff. So, whether it is being done purposely or through neglect, it is a problem worth fighting over.
In fact, in severe cases, bedsores can lead to sepsis, a condition that can eventually lead to death. So, by not raising a fuss about it, you may effectively be putting your loved one in further danger.
It is important to note that nursing homes can be sued for allowing their patients to get bedsores. This is particularly true if those bedsores require major medical intervention. As such, you should not be afraid to pursue legal action.
3. Your Loved One Is Hospitalized Unexpectedly
When a person is in a nursing home, it is often because he or she is suffering from a debilitating illness. As such, unexpected trips to the hospital are always a possibility. That said, some “unexpected trips” are actually preventable.
In some cases, an individual will end up in the hospital as a result of something that his or her caretaker did. So, while you do not want to jump to conclusions, you do want to assess every hospitalization separately.
Should a hospitalization occur, make sure to ask plenty of questions to the caretakers. If they are giving vague or incomplete answers, there’s a major cause for you to be suspicious.
4. Your Loved One’s Mood Has Changed
One of the biggest signs of nursing home abuse is a change in mood. If your loved one’s mood has changed radically from what it once was, there is a good chance that his or her caretakers have something to do with it.
Mood changes can be brought on by everything from ill-prescribed medications to physical abuse to emotional abuse and more. And while they can be brought on by natural sickness as well, those changes are much more predictable.
Has your loved one stopped talking? Does he or she seem to be in a state of confusion? Do you sense a feeling of fear when you are around?
All of these are a cause for concern. As such, if they arise, you are advised to look deeper into them.
5. Your Loved One Has Isolated Socially
Another sign that your loved one might be suffering from nursing home abuse is that he or she has isolated himself or herself socially. Isolating one’s self in this manner often happens as a reaction to trauma. It is generally connected to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Is your loved one staying in his or her room at all times? Has he or she stopped participating in group activities? Does he or she struggle to carry on a conversation when you visit?
If so, you may want to have a talk with the nursing home administrator and the social services director. Regardless of whether your loved one is being abused, he or she is experiencing a negative episode and must be handled with care. Only by speaking with the director can you get a feel for what’s really going on.
6. Your Loved One is Falling Regularly
It is not unusual for nursing home residents to fall from time to time. That said, nursing homes should be going out of their way to prevent falls as much as possible. After all, failure to prevent falls could result in everything from broken bones to brain injuries to a variety of other medical conditions.
As such, if your loved one has fallen several times while in the care of his or her nursing home, you could potentially consider that this nursing home is failing to provide care. Whether it is actively abusive or passively abusive (neglectful) does not matter. You have a reasonable expectation that the nursing home will keep your loved one safe and it is not living up to the expectation.
If your loved one has fallen several times, you may want to consider switching nursing homes. If your loved one has suffered a severe injury as a result of falling, you should think about filing a lawsuit against his or her nursing home.
7. Your Loved One Has Experienced Noticeable Weight Loss
Those in nursing homes are battling a range of diseases. As such, weight loss is not exactly out of the question. However, rapid weight loss is cause for concern. If your loved one has experienced noticeable weight loss, you need to do what you can to get to the bottom of it.
It could very well be an effect of his or her illness. On the other hand, it could be a component of a trauma response.
For instance, if your loved one was abused by his or her caretaker, he or she could have a suppressed appetite. At the same time, his or her caretaker could be depriving him or her of meals.
The weight loss could also be caused by a physiological response to stress. Those who are under extreme anxiety (perhaps as a result of nursing care abuse) are known to lose excess amounts of weight in short amounts of time. This could be happening to your loved one.
8. Your Loved One is Dehydrated
Another sign that your loved one might be suffering from nursing home abuse is that he or she is dehydrated. While this can sometimes be caused by the patient’s own health condition, it is commonly caused by neglect from caretakers.
You should expect that the nursing home is providing patients with adequate amounts of water and fluids throughout the day. If the patient is having trouble taking in fluids, or drinking water, you should expect it to be replaced with IV fluids.
Curious as to the signs of dehydration? Some of the most common include dry mouth, dry skin, canker sores, infrequent urination, irritability, and disorientation. If you notice these signs, you are encouraged to dig deeper.
9. Your Loved One Has Lost Hair
Hair loss is most certainly common among older individuals. However, it is not always caused by the same thing. Whereas some individuals will lose hair as a result of aging, other individuals might lose hair as a result of stress or anxiety.
If your loved one has suddenly begun to lose hair at a rapid rate, you should consider the latter. There is a good chance that your loved one is suffering from stress or anxiety, and caretaker abuse could very well be the culprit.
Keep an eye out for other clues. If other signs start popping up, speak with the nursing home director.
10. Your Loved One is Displaying Poor Hygiene
The last sign to look out for is poor hygiene. Nursing home abuse can lead to poor hygiene in two different ways: 1. It can come as a result of neglect, and 2. It can lead to depression, making it difficult for the affected individual to carry out his or her usual routine.
Foul smells, yellowing teeth, matted hair, and dry skin are just a few signs that indicate poor hygiene. Make sure to discuss the problem with both your loved one and his or her caretakers.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Nursing Home Abuse?
Has your loved one already become a victim of nursing home abuse? If so, and if you are looking for legal recourse, Beltz & Beltz is the law office to see.
Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, we have helped numerous clients seek and find justice in nursing home abuse cases. Regardless of the nature of your case, we can help you.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.