It's hard enough to make the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home. There are financial considerations, of course, but you also want to choose the best possible environment — the place where they'll get the best possible treatment from dedicated, caring professionals.
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. ABC News reports that the abuse takes place at one in three nursing homes, including serious physical, sexual and verbal abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Signs of nursing home abuse aren't always obvious, especially if your loved one is reticent to or unable to communicate effectively. Many things you'll see can easily (and sometimes legitimately) be explained by your parent or grandparent's illness or other circumstances beyond the control of medical personnel. But signs do exist.
Unusual bruising or bleeding
Bed sores, cuts, abrasions or open wounds
Sudden, inexplicable changes in weight
Loss of hair not associated with aging
Poor hygiene (including soiled clothes or bedding) or the smell of urine or feces
Torn, stained or bloody clothing or bedding
Other signs to look out for:
Disappearance of personal property
Sudden and unusual financial transactions
Physical or emotional withdrawal
Listlessness or unresponsiveness
Strange behavior (e.g., infantile behavior)
Refusal or delay of access when you arrive
While we're not suggesting any of these on their own or seen only once implies abuse, you should certainly be aware that these are common signs. There have been cases of nursing home patients dying simply because they weren't fed properly or because a bed sore became seriously infected, so it's imperative you're aware of what's going on and make note of anything you see.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
People in nursing homes can be the victims of any type of abuse, but they're often unable to defend themselves. Nursing home abuse isn't just limited to medical malpractice, though that does happen. Other reported types of abuse include:
Physical abuse — Your loved one could be slapped, hit or even severely beaten byfrustrated personnel. People have even been known to "discipline" patients by pinching, spanking and more.
Sexual abuse — No one wants to think about it, but it does happen. Never assume it can't.
Verbal abuse — Everyone has the right to be frustrated, but repeated verbal abuse can lead to depression, lack of security and more.
Most cases of nursing home abuse go unreported. And employees won't stop mistreating people until they're caught. What's more disturbing is that most nursing homes won't fire employees or change policies until they're the subject of an investigation.
Because of that, when you see any sign that your loved one isn't getting the best care, you have to report it. Never assume it's just "something that happens in a nursing home." Start by telling the staff, but make sure you know the right channels. You need it to go on the permanent record. Don't let it go. If they don't rectify it, consider putting your loved one in another home.
Unfortunately, if that doesn't help and your loved one is injured or dies as a result of their negligence, your next option needs to be hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer. There's never an excuse for mistreating someone who's care you've been charged with, but nursing home cases are still tricky.
If your loved one has been injured or died as the result of nursing home abuse, call the Kissimmee medical malpractice lawyers of Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.