How To Identify The Subtle Signs Of Nursing Home Negligence

By Mark Hassakis posted 01-31-2014 07:22 AM


Having a loved one in a nursing home or living facility is not an easy task. Besides the fact you are staying away from someone you really love, placing an elderly person in a living facility is financially draining as well.  But we still take the course of action believing that the elders will be taken care of better there and will have activities to keep them engaged and happier.  

But not all nursing homes treat their residents and our dear ones in a good or even healthy, permissible way.  The scary and sad truth is nursing home negligence and abuse is becoming increasingly common.  Inattentive staff may administer wrong drugs, not take care of basic hygiene, humiliate or ridicule the old people for their inability and even threaten them at times.

If you have a dear one at such a facility and thought they were safe, secure and healthy there, think again. I am not saying all nursing homes are bad and ill-treat their patients, but be alert when you keep an elderly person in a nursing home or living facility.
  • Is there something different in their behavior today?
  • Are they unusually quiet?
  • How did they become so aggressive?
  • Where are their spectacles?
  • Is there a stench in the room?
Do not ignore these small signs emanating from the individual under care or his surroundings. Sometimes, even on asking them, they might not reply so it is important that you stay a little alert around them.

Mentioned below are some not-so-obvious signs of nursing home negligence.  Take notice of them to protect your loved one from any ill-treatment or abuse.

Emotional Withdrawal

If you see a change in the response of your loved ones, take a good look at them.  While earlier they were chatting and laughing and responding very affectionately, they are unusually quiet now. Emotional withdrawal also manifests itself through detachment, sulking in a corner, not reacting, physically being unresponsive and even evasive sometimes. This may involve not making eye contact, resisting any physical touch, not asking any questions, looking through you or staring at empty space. Sometimes they may appear so dazed that you feel that they are not even registering your presence or recognizing you. If in consecutive meetings you see them being quite, unresponsive and perennially depressed, there is something wrong.

Come beyond normal visiting hours to meet them, to see how they are exactly being treated. If you are refused to meet them or kept waiting really long, there is definitely something not right happening with your loved ones.

Sudden Change in Physical Appearance

One of the first signs you should watch out for are sudden changes in physical appearance. These could be a result of some abuse or negligence they are experiencing. Sudden weight loss, loss of hair, developing flaky skin, bruises and marks on the body, if you see any of these symptoms, keep your alert buttons on. Talk to your loved one gently and ask him if anything is bothering him.  Try to read his body language if he is not being very affirmative.

Without any delay confront the nursing home administration about treatment meted out to your loved one and be calm while talking to the person responsible. See if he has any justifications or fair explanations that confirm that your dear one is safe and healthy here.

It is also important that you regularly check whether they are being given proper food and medicines or not.

Aggression and Fear

One of the first consequences of negligence and abuse in an individual is them turning aggressive or overtly fearful. If you witness any of these excessively in the person under care, you are right to have the seed of suspicion in your mind. One usually turns aggressive or fearful when they are regularly being physically and mentally threatened. Isolation, humiliation, psychological assault and forceful administration of some harmful drugs can also lead to such responses.

In such cases the menacing authorities often threaten them or instill a fear in them which prevents your loved ones from saying something to you as well. They might become very aggressive and resist physically intimate actions like hugging, holding, etc. or be very fearful and scared always. It does not always imply that they are being abused, but mostly do indicate that they are experiencing some form of aggression direct or passive.

Different Appearance of Surroundings

Among the various indicators of nursing home negligence, a difference in the appearance of the surroundings could also reveal a lot.  If there is a strong stench or weird smell in the room, you can always question the authorities about its origin. Similarly, unhygienic sanitary conditions of the place where the elder is residing is a definite indicator of nursing home negligence. Appearance of queer stains or reported loss of important possessions of your dear ones should also put you on an alert.

Nursing home neglect, physical and emotional can have very adverse effects on your loved one. Often, out of shame, fear and helplessness they are unable to communicate the extent of neglect and abuse they are facing. They feel that they have no options, no legal rights and nowhere to go and hence have to bear with all the tortures inflicted on them.

It becomes your responsibility to show them then that you care; you are there for them and will protect them. While moving them away from such a facility is obviously your first choice of action, make sure that you contact a nursing home neglect or abuse lawyer to litigate against the authorities or institutions involved and save a few elderly, dependent people to stay safe and not be victims of nursing home neglect and abuse.