Over two million seniors live in nursing homes in the United States. While nursing homes have the responsibility to care for our elderly loved ones, reports of abuse and neglect are on the rise. If you are making the difficult decision to place your loved one in a nursing home, or if your family member is currently in a nursing home facility, it is important to know the warning signs of abuse and neglect.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
The residents of a nursing home or nursing home facility have the right to the following:
- Dignity and Respect
- Communication with loved ones
- Physical, mental, and social services
- Appropriate treatment free from abuse or neglect
- Independence to make decisions as appropriate
- Ability to file complaints without fear of retaliation
- Freedom from any kind of physical restraint
- Ability to participate in their own personal medical care plan
- Ability to participate with their family, friends, and community at the nursing home
Watch for the Following Signs of Abuse and Neglect
There are several signs that can alert a loved one that their family member is being mistreated, abused, or neglected in a nursing home. If you see any of the following signs, contact the hospital administration staff, law enforcement, and an attorney to help represent your loved one’s rights as soon as possible.
- Physical Changes: If you notice weight loss, bruises, bedsores, unexplained infections, broken bones, difficulty sleeping, dehydration, unwashed body or hair, unwashed clothes, injuries from falls, any genital injuries, torn clothing, or contraction of a sexually transmitted disease, your loved one may have been abused or neglected.
- Emotional Changes: Oftentimes the onset of dementia will make your loved one act differently and exhibit unusual behaviors or emotions. However, you should make note if your loved one has excessive moods, depression, feels fearful, acts out violently, or acts strangely. These can be signs that they are upset or afraid of the nursing home staff, or an attempt to get attention without the fear of retaliation.
- Financial Changes: If a nursing home resident still maintains financial control over his or her assets, then that resident can be manipulated by the nursing home staff. Make certain to watch for any sign of a new loan, a revision to a will or trust, or any unexpected or large withdrawals from their bank accounts.
- Inadequate Communication from the Nursing Home: If the nursing home does not immediately give you updated information regarding your loved one, or does not allow you to talk to your loved one on the phone, these can be signs that they are attempting to limit your contact with your family member. You should always feel that the nursing home staff is working to ensure the safety and care of your loved one. Any red flag such as rapid staff turnover, or inability to communicate with management should warn you that there may be some abuse or neglect.
Contact an Attorney
Your loved one deserves respect, care, and the right to live in a safe environment. If you suspect or discover that your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect due to intentional acts or negligence, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your loved one’s memory may fade, or evidence may be lost. Contact Dworken & Bernstein at 440-352.3391 or online today for your free consultation.