If a loved one is staying at a nursing home, the resident’s family may be concerned about his or her wellbeing. With frequent check-ins and visitations, residents’ families and friends can look for any signs of abuse or neglect that may occur. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect take place in many nursing homes across the U.S., but there are ways to identify and address these issues early on.
The Importance of Frequent Check-Ins
Visiting a loved one in a nursing home helps maintain a healthy relationship and gives residents company. It can also give visitors a chance to look for any indicators of abuse or neglect.
Nursing home abuse and neglect share similarities, but there are specific types of abuse and neglect that take place. While abuse entails intentional malicious behavior against residents that causes physical, psychological, or financial harm, neglect is the failure to provide adequate care that can lead to health issues or mental distress.
Types of Abuse and Neglect to Look for
Recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse can help visitors protect loved ones. There are several types of abuse and neglect to look for, which may be apparent in different ways.
Physical abuse can include instances of intentional physical harm resulting in injury to nursing home residents. This abuse can take the form of kicking, punching, pinching, slapping, or using physical restraints to cause harm. In some cases, physical abuse may also entail withholding medication.
Nursing home staff may abuse residents verbally, causing psychological harm. Verbal abuse may involve insulting, yelling at, criticizing, or exhibiting other verbal cruelty. If a resident displays emotional distress or appears withdrawn, this could indicate verbal abuse.
In addition to verbal abuse, many residents suffer other types of psychological abuse, which may be more difficult to spot than physical abuse. Psychological abuse may entail isolating, demeaning, ignoring, or humiliating residents. Signs may include withdrawal or visible emotional distress.
Some cases involve financial abuse of residents, which involves any illicit use of a resident’s money, property, or other assets. The resident’s family should check for any suspicious withdrawals or other activity in the resident’s bank account, forged signatures on certain documents, or missing property from the resident’s room.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Two potential signs of neglect are malnutrition or dehydration. Nursing home staff are required to provide adequate food and fluids to residents to maintain their health. However, incidents of neglect may include providing insufficient nutrients in an unbalanced diet, providing residents with too much of a specific nutrient, or simply failing to feed or provide liquids to residents on a regular schedule.
Other forms of abuse and neglect may include sexual abuse, unclean facilities, isolation, allowing residents to wander unsupervised, and medication errors. To prevent nursing home abuse, it’s important for family members to look for any signs when visiting residents. If loved ones believe abuse or neglect is taking place, it may be possible to pursue legal action against the nursing home and staff members.