Nursing home neglect refers to a variety of issues that stem from insufficient care of elderly residents in nursing homes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), neglect can take either a physical or emotional form. Nursing home neglect classifies as elder abuse and involves the illegal breach of duty a nursing home has to ensure the protection and safety of its elderly residents, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
While abuse involves the mistreatment of a person by another in a position of trust, neglect refers to the failure to provide caregiving duties for the health and safety of elderly residents. Consequences of neglect can include catastrophic injuries or even death. Understanding the signs of nursing home neglect can help possibly prevent neglect or help spot neglect if it occurs.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home staff and caregivers can commit elder neglect of residents in several ways. The following list provides some examples of neglect that can occur in a nursing home:
Elderly residents rely on nursing home staff members to help them get in and out of bed, get in and out of their wheelchair, go to the bathroom, and have food and water. Without proper attention, many nursing home residents remain alone without basic life necessities. If a caregiver essentially deserts an elderly resident in a facility, the elderly adult may attempt to get out of a wheelchair themselves or go to the bathroom themselves, leading to a fall, which may result in injury or death. If a nursing home does not provide proper water or food in a timely manner, oftentimes nursing home residents have no way to obtain these items for themselves independently. Failure to provide proper food and water can quickly lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
Nursing home residents often require medications on a regular basis. If a nursing home neglects to provide the correct medications, in the correct dosage amounts, at the correct time, this may signal negligence on the part of the caregiver. Make sure to always check to see if your elderly loved one is receiving their medications properly and on the required schedule.
Emotional neglect in the elderly occurs when a caregiver treats an elderly person in a way that can cause serious emotional or psychological pain or distress. Some ways a senior resident can suffer from emotional neglect in a nursing home can include the nursing home staff ignoring or trivializing a resident’s requests or questions. Another example of emotional neglect includes if the nursing home staff moves a resident’s walker or wheelchair so that they feel humiliated and unable to move around the nursing home. Berating or yelling at nursing home residents or threatening any kind of physical or sexual abuse qualifies as emotional neglect or abuse. In either case, a nursing home resident should never have to endure this type of emotional distress.
Signs of Neglect in Nursing Homes
Some of the warning signs of the types of neglect in a nursing home described above can include:
- Weight loss or gain.
- Dehydration or malnutrition.
- Hair loss or tooth loss.
- Bedsores or infections.
- Ripped or torn clothing.
- Signs of being undermedicated.
- Lack of personal hygiene.
- Sudden anxiety or depression.
- Outbursts of anger.
- Changes in personality or behavior.
- Withdrawal of normal activities.
- Changes in eating or sleeping.
- Fear of nursing home staff members.
- Childish behaviors.
- Repetitive behaviors.
One of the most disturbing signs of neglect in a nursing home involves the refusal of the nursing home staff to allow you to see your elderly loved one when you visit, according to the NIH. You have the right to visit with your loved one, and if the nursing home refuses that right, it may signal that they are attempting to hide signs of nursing home neglect or abuse. If you feel your elderly loved one may be in any kind of danger, you should contact Adult Protective Services as well as local law enforcement.
Reporting Elder Neglect
If you believe your elderly loved one suffered from any kind of neglect in a nursing home, you should remove them as soon as possible. Provide your elderly loved one with support and emotional counseling if needed. Additionally, contact Adult Protective Services or law enforcement. In most cases, the government will appoint a caregiver who conducts an official investigation into the elderly neglect and determine what abuse or neglect occurred.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer for Help Today
If you believe that your elderly loved one suffered either physically, emotionally, or in any other way as a resident in a nursing home, you have the right to pursue charges against those who neglected or abused your loved one. Our nursing home abuse attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm want to help. Call us at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your loved one’s legal rights.