As an attorney, I often talk to potential clients regarding concern for the treatment their loved ones are receiving in nursing homes. Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a very difficult decision in the first place, but then to realize they may not be receiving proper care and/or treatment can be even more upsetting. I thought it might be helpful to share some warning signs to be aware of, so we can do our best to protect our loved ones. Each person and situation is different, but here are some of the most common warning signs of neglect or abuse to look for in your loved ones:
- Changes in their mood or that they seem fearful;
- They have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease;
- They do not want to see you and/or seem withdrawn;
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises or broken bones;
- Bed sores or ulcers;
- Soiled bedding and/or clothing;
- They are not getting the medical treatment and/or medication they need;
- They look malnourished and/or dehydrated;
- They have very poor hygiene; and
- Unexplained weight loss.
If you notice any of these signs or others that may concern you, don’t just brush them off. It’s best to be safe and have them investigated. The following are some actions you may want to take if you have concerns: Contact the nursing home and report your concerns to management; seek medical treatment for your loved one if needed; call the police if you feel there is any sexual or physical abuse (you can also report your concerns to the long-term care Ombudsman who can often help to resolve your complaint and concerns); and, finally, you can reach out to an attorney to discuss your concerns.
Hopefully, no one ever has to go through this. However, we always need to be aware, so our loved ones are cared for properly and kept safe.