How Do I Know if My Loved One Is Being Neglected in Their Nursing Home?
If you are caregiver or relative of an aging adult, you have likely heard heartbreaking stories of elder abuse and neglect. The good news is that, while your loved one will likely spend the majority of the time out from under your watchful eye, there is much you can do to protect them.
Speak with an elder abuse attorney in Walnut Creek immediately if you suspect your loved one is being neglected or harmed.
How to Identify Nursing Home Neglect
Neglect is a form of elder abuse that may be difficult to spot. The signs may be more subtle and your loved one may be less likely to complain, which is why it is even more critical that you know what it looks like. During your visits with your senior at a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other residential senior facility, be sure to do the following as often as possible to look for signs of neglect:
- Visit their personal residence or room. If you only meet them for meals in the dining hall or take them on outings, you may miss signs of neglect such as inadequate cleaning or infrequent visits from maintenance staff. These may include excessive dust, dirty floors, bathrooms that are missing necessary amenities such as soap, toilet paper, etc. This is also an opportunity to ensure nursing home staff are taking proper safety measures to keep your loved one safe in their room. Such measures can include bed railings, secured rugs, locked windows, and more, depending on your senior’s level of mental and physical health.
- Look for bedsores. If your loved one spends a significant amount of time in bed, subcutaneous ulcers (known as “bedsores”) may become an issue, especially if nursing home staff do not take care to turn them over and help them remain active. If you notice multiple bedsores on the shoulders, head, lower back, and/or heels, it may be a sign that the staff are not spending enough time helping your senior move about. Speak up right away if you notice bedsores, especially if they are open or appear to be infected, as these could be signs of neglect.
- Watch their weight. In many cases, rapid weight gain is a sign of congestive heart failure among older adults. If your senior is rapidly gaining weight, it could be a sign that nursing home staff are not adhering to proper diet requirements or watching your senior closely enough to spot the symptoms of a serious health problem. If your senior is losing weight, this could be a sign that they are not being encouraged to eat, they are not being brought food, or the food is of poor enough quality that they prefer not to eat. In any case, a significant weight change is not a good sign.
- Take note of social or personality changes. If your senior becomes withdrawn, depressed, or exhibits other potential signs of social isolation, this could be a sign they are being neglected, even if that neglect occurs in the form of failure to facilitate social interaction or foster meaningful connection with and among residents.
What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect
Keep in mind that you are your senior’s best advocate, especially if they are being neglected or abused by nursing home staff. Even if your senior is hesitant to disclose the details of what they are experiencing in their retirement home, it is critical that you see the signs and take action on their behalf. Also remember that if you visit your loved one regularly you are more likely to take notice of small changes in their social behavior, mood, and personality and receive more honest feedback from them about the quality of care they are receiving.
One of the first things you should do when you suspect your loved one is being neglected is to speak with nursing home staff. Embrace the possibility that there has been a misunderstanding or uncharacteristic lapse in care, but do not accept low-quality care. If you feel your loved one is being neglected and that neglect is taking a toll on your loved one’s health and wellbeing, speak up immediately.
Contact an Elder Abuse Lawyer in Walnut Creek Today
At Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook, we are passionate about standing up for vulnerable people and ensuring they are protected. We are committed to helping you defend your loved one and hold neglectful caregivers and nursing homes responsible for not administering reasonable or agreed-upon care.
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected in their nursing home, call (925) 275-5592 to schedule your free consultation with our Walnut Creek elder abuse attorneys.