What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes?
Orange County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Explains What to Look For
Nursing homes and elder care facilities have a duty to protect the wellbeing of elderly residents. This is true whether the home is a group home for seniors, a large residential care facility for the elderly, or a skilled nursing facility. When nursing homes neglect this duty of care, then residents are placed at risk for serious injuries and health conditions, which may be fatal. Furthermore, we find that many seniors are unable or unwilling to report poor care, especially if staff take steps to conceal substandard conditions. Thus, it is most often the case that the burden of identifying and reporting nursing home abuse and neglect falls to family members. If you have a loved one in an elder care facility, then you should stay alert for signs of nursing home negligence; if you notice any red flags, as discussed below, then contact a local nursing home abuse attorney.
My name is Del Hovden. I have been standing up for elderly victims of nursing home neglect for over 30 years. If you have any concerns that your loved one is not receiving proper care, then then the staff at Moss Hovden and TLD Law can investigate the facility in question on your behalf. If necessary, we can help you move your loved one to a different home. Then, we can advise you on options to correct the situation at the facility and whether the potential claim for your loved one justifies a lawsuit or other routes for recovery. That is but one option. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation for his or her medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. We assess all the options with our clients.
What Are Common Warning Signs of Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse?
Some elderly nursing home residents have medical conditions, such as dementia, which prevent them from understanding, let alone reporting, abuse. Others may feel ashamed or afraid to speak up against the staff they rely on every day. Therefore, when you visit a loved one in a nursing home, stay alert for common warning signs or so-called “red flags” of abuse, such as:
Pressure ulcers (bedsores) develop when a person remains sitting or lying in the same position for too long. These lesions commonly develop on the heels, tailbone, shoulders and/or head if staff neglect to reposition bedridden residents. Bedridden patients should be shifted from position at least every two hours. These patients live in skilled nursing facilities in most cases. You should work with your loved ones to check the areas of their bodies mentioned above. At the first sign of redness, you should contact the staff at the facility to be sure the proper protocols are being followed to manage areas of redness to avoid bedsores.
Unexplained bruises and physical injuries
Bruises, cuts and broken bones can be signs of physical or sexual assault. Injuries from a slip and fall accident may also be indicative of a lack of proper supervision or assistance from staff. Falls should not happen in most cases and are often due to seniors not being properly assisted and cared for. We have found, in many cases, that seniors do use their call alerts to seek assistance, whether at a nursing home or hospital, but due to staff shortages the senior patient is left to wait for 15 to 30 minutes for staff response. As you can imagine, the patient who needs to use the facilities will try to get to the commode themselves and due to weakness or infirmity may fall down in the process, often fracturing a leg or hip.
Infections or untreated injuries
Not all injuries or illnesses may be preventable, but staff must treat or get outside treatment for residents when they need it. Infections are a common sign of medical negligence or unsanitary conditions in nursing facilities.
Sudden weight loss
If your loved one suddenly loses weight, then this may be a sign of malnutrition or an illness. You should also check to see if your relative is excessively hungry or thirsty, which indicates that staff are neglecting meals.
Poor personal hygiene
Unwashed clothes and dirty hair or skin may indicate that staff cannot or will not properly bathe residents.
Debris and dirt in the facility may be a sign of understaffing or other negligence, which may endanger your loved one’s health. What we suggest before having your loved one admitted to a facility is that you take a walk through the entire complex. Is it clean? Do residents appear well cared for and happy/involved in activities? How many employees do you see working? What is their appearance? Does the facility look clean and neat? Does it pass the smell test?
Personality changes, especially withdrawal
Depression, anxiety and withdrawal may be signs of physical and emotional abuse.
Fear of staff
If your loved one acts fearful or grows quiet around staff, then this may be a sign of emotional abuse and/or intimidation.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?
If you suspect nursing home negligence, then you should take action to protect your loved one and other residents. If your loved one’s life is in immediate danger, move him or her to the hospital or another home immediately, and then call a lawyer. However, if you are unsure whether a facility is negligent, follow these steps:
Take notes and speak to your loved one
First, take careful notes about the conditions of the nursing home and interactions with staff. Include the dates and times of your visits. If possible, ask your loved one directly about his or her living conditions. Thorough records are crucial if you must eventually file a claim.
Speak to the facility manager
Nursing home abuse laws require facility managers to investigate and address any complaints brought by residents or family members. Therefore, you should voice your concerns to the supervisor and see if conditions improve. If at a skilled nursing home, then ask to schedule an appointment with the Director of Nursing and/or facility manager. If at another type of care facility, then ask to speak with the manager and get together with the team leader, if applicable, for your loved one. Keep notes of your conversations with the admin personnel and keep track of their fulfillment of promises they extend to your loved one. Meet with them regularly to avoid mistakes, confusion or misunderstanding.
Call a nursing home abuse lawyer
If the facility fails to address your concerns, then call a California nursing home abuse attorney. An attorney can explain your rights and guide you through the rest of the process. A lawyer may also be able to get information about the facility’s history and/or staff, which can help your case.
Make an official complaint
Your attorney can assist you in filing a complaint with the relevant state and federal agencies, including Adult Protective Services.
File a lawsuit, if necessary
Your lawyer can advise you on how to file a claim against the negligent facility. A lawsuit can help your loved one get compensation for injuries and damages. However, a legal claim can also force a nursing home to alter its policies and practices, benefitting all residents.
Legal Questions About Elder Abuse? Call Our California Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you notice any signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, then contact our California lawyers today. We can investigate your loved one’s treatment and will advocate aggressively for his or her rights. We have many decades of experience with elder abuse cases in nursing homes. Let us put that experience to work for you. Call (877) 959-6606 or contact us online today to schedule a free conference to discuss your matter.