Placing the care of your loved one into the hands of a nursing home, assisted
living facility, or other long-term care facility can be one of the most
difficult decisions you will ever make. While you do everything possible
to research your options and choose a safe, clean, and reputable facility,
medical malpractice, neglect, and abuse are unfortunate realities in many nursing homes. In
fact, as many as 11 percent of elderly people have suffered some form
of abuse or neglect in the past year, according to the American Journal
of Public Health. Worse, only one out of fourteen cases of elder abuse
is brought to the attention of authorities, and 30 percent of nursing
homes may be getting away with mistreatment.
Be Aware of These Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
To help prevent the chance that your loved one will fall victim to
nursing home abuse, keep in regular contact with them to discuss how they are feeling and
how they are being treated by staff. If they raise any concerns, take
them seriously and investigate any claims to ensure that elder abuse is
not taking place. Any concern that the dignity of your loved one is being
compromised should be treated as a priority and looked into immediately.
Why Does Abuse Happen?
Think about it: caring for an elderly resident in a nursing home means
that there must be someone there to help the resident eat, dress, toilet,
shower or bathe, move to a wheelchair, commode or chair, and take medicine.
If a home does not have enough aides or nurses, the elderly residents
will be unattended, neglected at mealtime, ignored when they need toileting,
and suffer the failures and forgetfulness of an overworked staff. Residents
will fall, trying to get to a bathroom by themselves, when aides take
hours to respond. Too hot showers, untested by aides distracted by too
many patients, will burn residents. Medicines can be mixed up by nurses
handling too many prescriptions. Bedridden residents, who need to be turned
by staff, will be left in one position too long and develop bedsores.
The following are some of the most common signs of nursing home failures
- Unexplained injuries, including pressure marks from confinements, bruises,
or cuts in various stages of healing
- Malnutrition and weight loss
- Lack of basic hygiene
- Unsanitary conditions
- Lack of supervision
- Unexplained changes in mood and behavior, including being non-communicative,
easily agitated, or withdrawn
- Unexplained accidents leading to broken bones or head injuries
- Frequent illnesses and illnesses that are not promptly reported to physicians or family
Despite numerous state regulations designed to ensure a standard of care
for elderly people in nursing homes, there continues to be abuse, injury,
and wrongful death in these facilities. You can do your part to help prevent
neglect and abuse through
Prevention through selection - When researching a facility, ask the following questions: what is the
staff to patient ratio? How many aides are on the floor attending to the
residents on a regular weekday and on weekends and holidays, the times
when staff ratio may decrease? How does the place look and smell? Are
the residents clean, dressed appropriately, and interacting with each
other? How often does the staff meet with family? What are visiting rules?
How long have the nurses and aides been in service, and how were they
trained and/or certified? These are just some of the questions that you
should answer by visiting the facility and speaking with administrators
Prevention through vigilance - After choosing a nursing home, closely monitor the level of care that
your loved one receives. Visit frequently. Provide several phone numbers
and other contact information to staff. Designate the doctor responsible
for your loved one’s care and provide staff with a complete medical
history. Then, keep an eye on any significant changes in your loved one’s
health. Unfortunate as this may seem, the staff will listen to you, the
family member, more quickly than they will to the resident. Make sure
your loved one telephones if they are not receiving appropriate care,
if their medicine is withheld, they are not receiving nutritious, edible,
and sufficient food, if they are not being turned, if bedridden, or if
they are not getting sufficient help toileting or showering. Your interest
and quick intervention can make an incredible difference.
If you suspect that your loved one may be a victim,
contact a New York City personal injury lawyer at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C.
For a free consultation,
click here to fill out an online form.