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Is Everything Okay? Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing facility is often difficult and heartbreaking. Of course, we want to make sure that the facility we choose provides excellent care to our loved ones. Unfortunately, there are times when these facilities fall short. Not all cases of nursing home neglect are intentional, but they can all be dangerous. Here are some signs and situations to watch for:

Physical Appearance

Some of the physical signs of abuse and neglect are readily apparent, such as bedsores, scars, bruises and welts. Anything that obvious should be questioned immediately. However, there are other less apparent signs to watch for, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Unkempt hair
  • Stains on clothing
  • Dirt under the fingernails
  • Rashes on any part of the body
  • Excessively dry skin
  • Unpleasant odors

While any of these conditions could have a perfectly innocent explanation, a combination could indicate that your loved one isn’t getting proper care.

Cleanliness of the Facility

While most facilities will ensure areas open to the public are clean and well-kept, it is wise to take a look behind the scenes. Ask to see the kitchen and laundry facilities. Take a look inside storage areas where bedding and linens are kept. If the nursing home refuses, it may be an indication that there is something to hide. Take a peek under beds, in closets and in other areas out of immediate view. If you see dirt, dust and other debris, there may be an issue with overall housekeeping at the facility.

Social Events

Many nursing facilities will host social events for the residents. You should monitor these events to make sure that, they are appropriate for your loved one and that they are supervised by nursing home staff. For instance, if an outside group is hosting a party at the nursing home, and your loved one is restricted in what they can eat, there should be someone from the facility present at all times to make sure your loved one doesn’t partake in food they shouldn’t. In addition, while some well-intentioned groups plan activities, some of these activities may pose a danger to less able-bodied individuals. Again, depending on the number of residents present, there should be facility staff present to make sure no one partakes in activities that are beyond their capabilities, thus risking injury.

Resident Interaction

Many nursing homes have residents present who may exhibit aggressive or violent behavior. You should ask the nursing facility about any such individuals, and what precautions are taken, especially when residents are present in a common area, to ensure that your loved one is not put at risk. This is an especially important consideration if your loved one has a roommate. Be proactive to ensure that your loved one is placed with roommates who are not violent, aggressive, or unduly disruptive.

Remember, if you have even a slight suspicion that something is amiss at a nursing facility, don’t hesitate to report it by calling the Hotline at 1-800-392-0210.