Nursing home abuse and neglect can come in many different forms. Family members place their loved ones in the care of an assisted living or nursing home facility with the expectation that their loved one's physical, mental and emotional needs are met. When caring for your loved one becomes too much on your own, you trust that the professionals at the institution take over in ways you would approve of, but this is not always the case.
With close to two million Americans living in long-term care facilities, neglect and abuse should be issues that concern the entire country. Federal regulations require a facility meet certain guidelines, and if you fear your chosen facility is not meeting those regulations, watch your loved one closely for the following signs of nursing home abuse or neglect.
The difference between abuse and neglect
Abuse and neglect are two different things, but often go hand in hand when it comes to long-term care facilities. Neglect is defined as an intentional or unintentional failure to provide services and care necessary to keep a resident free from pain and harm, or a failure to handle a situation that is potentially dangerous that would cause harm or anxiety to a resident.
Abuse is when injury is intentionally inflicted; intimidation and unreasonable confinement are used for control; and punishment or deprivations cause mental anguish, pain or physical harm.
Red flags that signal abuse or neglect
Every individual handles moving into a long-term facility differently, and a degree of depression or anxiety may be normal, but when your loved one deals with one or more of the following problems, you may need to investigate:
- Lack of nutrition that leads to physical issues like dehydration or malnutrition, which currently affects up to 20 percent of long-term care residents throughout the world.
- Lack of or loss of mobility that manifests through loss of muscle strength and tone, infections and bedsores when residents are left in bed for too long.
- Injuries like bruises, head injuries or broken bones that have no explanation but may signify a loved one is being abused or is trying to get around on her or his own.
- Depression, anxiety, anger or resentment may be present when you attempt to leave your loved one or a specific caretaker is in the room.
- Lack of personal hygiene, such as bathing, combing hair, clipping nails or brushing teeth.
- Dirty, soiled bedding, kitchen areas or bathrooms that show an ignorance of sanitation requirements.
If you fear your loved one is being abused or neglected at a long-term care facility, you are not alone. You should seek the advice of a qualified attorney immediately to determine how to handle the situation correctly and protect your loved one.