6 signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect is more common than most think. More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected. According to nursinghomeabuse.org, more than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.

Most of us can’t see behind the scenes of the nursing homes that our loved ones reside in. Because of this, our staff at Levine Law Group has joined forces to put together a list of 6 signs that may show you that your loved one may be being neglected.

1. Poor personal hygiene – When caring for nursing home residents, nurses and other staff are expected to aid with basic personal hygiene. Many residents need help with getting dressed, brushing their teeth, clipping their nails, bathing, combing their hair and more. When a person is neglected, they are left to do these things on their own, and oftentimes, they are not capable of doing so.

When a nursing home does not have enough staff members, both residents and their hygiene routines suffer. Additionally, in some cases, staff members lack formal education in proper health care. Unfortunately, lack of routine dental care is a serious issue at nursing homes throughout the country.

2. Unsanitary living conditions– Nursing homes are required to provide residents with safe and clean living conditions. Failing to do so could indicate they are being neglected. According to federal law, nursing home facilities must “establish and maintain an infection control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment in which residents reside…” They must also meet state requirements for safety and security.
Malnutrition and dehydration can be caused by issues ranging from inadequate staffing to high nurse and aide turnover.
Make sure your loved one or the facility has clean clothing and bedding, clean bathroom areas and a sanitary kitchen. Neglecting these duties could lead to sickness and other health-related issues.

3. Physical issues from lack of nutrition – Neglect also can lead to physical issues like malnutrition and dehydration. Whether caused deliberately, or through lack of oversight, poor nutrition affects millions of people in nursing homes across the country. Recent research has estimated that about 20 percent of international nursing home residents suffered from some form of malnutrition.

Malnutrition and dehydration can be caused by issues ranging from inadequate staffing to a lack of individualized care and high nurse and aide turnover. (redundant – see pgh 2 of #2 – may want to delete or change) Medical problems like depression and difficulty swallowing can also play a role.

4. Loss or lack of mobility – Mobility is often a challenge for nursing home residents. A good nursing home will make sure staff helps residents move around, exercise and remain as active as possible. Many facilities use walking programs to build muscle tone and strength, improve circulation, increase balance and reduce spasms and contractures, according to the Illinois Council on Long Term Care.

When a person is neglected, he or she may be left in bed for long periods of time, risking a loss of all mobility. Without routine movement, residents can also face other health issues, such as bedsores and infections.

5. Unexplained injuries – Things like broken bones, bruises or head injuries could be a significant indicator that abuse or neglect is taking place. People who do not receive the help they need may attempt to do things for themselves. That may be as simple as walking somewhere unassisted, which can lead to falls or other preventable injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries. The average nursing home resident falls 2.6 times each year. Those who survive frequently become permanently disabled, leaving them with a reduced quality of life. Although not all of these incidents are caused by neglect, the CDC lists a number of things nursing homes can do to help prevent falls, such as reviewing prescribed drugs to assess their risk, installing grab bars and better training their staff.

6. Psychological issues – Neglect, like other forms of abuse, can cause a number of emotional issues for elderly residents. They may become afraid of the caregivers and reluctant to talk about the issues they face or may also become angry or resentful. Sometimes, residents grow distant from friends and family, can close themselves off and even suffer from depression. All of these emotional changes should be taken seriously and should be addressed immediately.

These issues also may cause a person to begin neglecting themselves. The National Adult Protective Services Association defines self-neglect as: “an adult’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care….” Examples of self-neglect can include refusing to eat, refusing to take necessary medication or refusing to perform basic personal hygiene.

Take Action If Needed

Neglect is a tragic issue that can cause serious physical and psychological harm for elderly nursing home residents. Knowing the warning signs and indicators of abuse and neglect can help you protect your loved one.

Call 1-877-660-4357 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys today if you feel that your loved one may be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse.