One big fear many families have regarding nursing homes is the lack of appropriate and personalized care for their loved ones. Over the years, there have been countless cases of the elderly being abused and neglected in long term care facilities and nursing homes. Families need to be aware that neglect and abuse in a nursing home do not always present with obvious physical injuries, but rather as emotional abuse. In the majority of cases, elderly patient abuse in nursing homes is due to the actions or inactions of the nursing home staff.
What type of neglect can occur in nursing homes?
- Medical Health Neglect: This occurs when the nursing staff fails to attend to, prevent, or treat an existing or new health problem in the senior. For example, patients with strokes who are bedridden are prone to bedsores. Universally there are established protocols to help prevent these skin problems, which are sometimes not followed. For instance, diabetic patients not only need their medications/insulin on time, the nursing staff has to simultaneously monitor the blood sugars, which if not controlled can lead to worsening of any open wound, urinary tract infection, or sepsis. Any time a senior has a change in his/her health status like the development of confusion, weakness, inability to walk or speak, this must be reported immediately to the primary care provider to determine the cause. Failure to do so can seriously compromise the health of the senior.
- Personal Care Neglect: The majority of nursing home residents have a physical and/or mental disability and thus require some type of basic personal care. Some seniors may need help with dressing, use of the bathroom, assistance with showering, or eating. The senior may be left unattended for days in the same dirty soiled garments, the diaper may be unchanged, or the bed may be soaked with urine. This is also considered to be neglect.
- Basic Needs Neglect: Bedridden seniors are dependent on the nursing staff for assistance with food, changing of their diaper, and/or brushing teeth. Failing to take care of these basic needs or not feeding the senior for several days are examples of neglect of basic needs.
- Safety Neglect: Many seniors in nursing homes have some type of mental or physical limitations such as dementia, issues ambulating, or not being able to hear and/or speak. The nursing home is responsible for not only ensuring that the seniors are safe but must also provide a safe environment. If the doors are unlocked a confused senior with dementia may wander away. Additionally, loose rugs and inadequate lighting in the hallway can easily lead to a fall. Furthermore, the nursing staff has to ensure that seniors are not abused by other residents.
- Emotional Neglect: There are instances when the nursing staff may ignore the patient alarm for many hours or even multiple days. Sometimes the nursing staff may be verbally abusive to the senior. Emotional neglect and abuse is not a minor issue. It can lead to severe depression, withdrawal, behavior problems, and/or failure to thrive. The family may notice a sudden change in the senior’s behavior but with no physical signs of abuse, this type of neglect is often difficult to recognize.
Since many seniors in nursing homes are often not able to express what is happening to them, the family must take proactive steps if abuse or neglect is suspected. If one has evidence that their loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, the best recommendation is to consult with a personal injury lawyer. At Walton Law, we are here to help. Based in San Diego and Riverside counties, we have been fighting nursing home abuse for numerous years and would love to help get your loved one out of the illegal situation, compensation for their injuries, and more. We are ready to get started today- call us now.