Recognizing Signs of Neglect In Nursing Homes

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2010 nearly 6 million cases of elder abuse were reported in the United States. That means that nearly 10% of the elderly population reported being physically, financially or emotionally abused. Unfortunately, these statistics probably only represent a fraction of the actual cases of elder abuse, as the NCEA estimates that only 1 of 14 cases of elder abuse is ever reported.

According to the same study, neglect accounts for almost 60% of reported elder abuse cases. Neglect is a form of abuse wherein a caregiver fails to provide an elderly resident with basic needs including food, water, medical assistance, shelter, personal hygiene products and so on. While some forms of neglect such as bed sores may be obvious (and life threatening); other symptoms of neglect may be more difficult to detect.

Here is a partial list of warning signs or symptoms that an elder you love may be suffering from neglect in a nursing home.

•Sudden weight loss
•Poor personal hygiene
•Excessive sleepiness or confusion with no apparent cause
•Lack of necessities, including prescription eye glasses, dentures, hearing aids, canes, or other devices to aid in mobility and quality of life
•Skin rashes
•Improper clothing for weather
•Matted hair
•Dirty hands/fingernails
•Reports of nightmares & trouble sleeping
•Appears afraid of staff of nursing home
•Demonstrates emotional distress including depression and despair
•Appears withdrawn or detached

If you suspect somebody is being neglected while in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home; you should consider reporting the incident to both the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the California Department of Public Health. You can also contact Adult Protective Services and your local law enforcement.

Christopher C. Walton is a San Diego nursing home neglect attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you or somebody you know shows signs of neglect or abuse, please call us at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation with an elder abuse attorney.