1. Bad odor / uncleanliness
One of the first and most obvious signs of neglect is a lack of cleanliness. Your loved one deserves to enjoy living conditions that are sanitary and orderly. If you notice a persistently unpleasant odor when you visit, or dirty floors, linens, or bathroom area, this may signify a problem.
2. Unexplained bruises or cuts.
Some very minor injuries may not be cause for alarm, as the elderly have thinner skin and are increasingly fragile with age. Elderly patients who are bed-ridden are especially susceptible to bed sores. However, frequent or abnormal injuries, however minor, could indicate that the patient is being handled too roughly or is suffering from neglect.
3. Weight loss or dehydration.
Many seniors have special dietary requirements, or need help eating their meals. Sometimes a nursing home resident may not get enough to eat simply because their food was not cut into bite-size pieces. Patients who suffer from Parkinson’s often need assistance with drinking and handling food. If your loved one has been losing weight, looking frail or suffering from symptoms of dehydration, this could indicate that they are not being properly cared for.
Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse that threatens the elderly. Criticism, humiliation and ignoring are just a few examples of emotional abuse that sometimes occur in nursing facilities. Also, it’s important that your loved one has the opportunity to engage socially. Isolation is another form of nursing home neglect.
Signs of depression include loss of appetite, changes in sleep patterns, withdrawn behavior and loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable. Pay attention to your loved one, and be sure to maintain an open dialogue about the quality of their experience in the nursing home.
5. Medications not being administered or being administered improperly.
Is your loved one’s health fluctuating and unpredictable? Are they suffering from abnormal side effects? If you suspect that your loved one is not receiving their medication in the proper doses or at the proper times, don’t be afraid to ask to see the nursing home’s records. Every dose that was administered should be recorded.
While we believe that most nursing facilities and nursing staff offer compassionate and quality care, the best thing you can do for your loved one in a nursing home is to visit them often and remain vigilant. If you notice anything at all that raises an alarm, do not hesitate to investigate the situation further. If you believe your loved one could be the victim of abuse, you can call the Virginia Elder Abuse Hotline at: 1-888-832-3858, or you can report it to your local authorities, as elder abuse is a criminal offense. For more information, visit Virginia Adult Protective Services. If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact us for a free consultation to discuss your options about bringing an elder abuse lawsuit.