Although it is difficult to imagine how someone tasked with caring for defenseless nursing home residents could neglect them, it happens all too often. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), more than one in 10 nursing home residents have suffered abuse of some form within the past year, including neglect. Knowing the often-subtle signs of nursing home neglect can help you keep your susceptible loved one from being victimized at the hands of those who are duty-bound to protect and care for them.
Some things to watch for:
- Physical signs of neglect. This might include bedsores from where the patient lies in one position without turning, due to staff inattention. Physically, neglect might also manifest as burns, bruises, and broken bones that occur when residents are inadequately supervised.
- Weight loss or malnutrition/dehydration. Neglect can sometimes take the form of residents not consuming enough food, and it sometimes happens that nursing home staff fails to monitor residents’ food intake.
- Personal hygiene problems. Nursing home residents can decline quickly if they do not receive help with their personal hygiene. An unkempt appearance or odor can be indicative of neglect.
- Insomnia. Residents who are experiencing neglect often have trouble sleeping for a variety of reasons.
- Personality changes. When a resident is being neglected and fails to get the type of care needed, personality changes can ensue.
Keep in mind that many patients fail to report neglect or abuse by nursing home staff. They may be afraid of retribution or may even be embarrassed to let anyone know about the situation. It is also common for neglected or abused residents to have dementia—and in this case, they may not even remember that neglect or abuse occurs.
What Causes Nursing Home Neglect?
While most nursing homes treat elderly and disabled residents with respect and dignity, others do not. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), neglect occurs when a nursing home resident’s basic needs go unmet. This includes food, water, shelter, hygiene, clothing, and medical care. Neglect is a type of nursing home abuse.
Nursing home neglect is often a consequence of understaffed nursing facilities where profit is placed above the well-being of residents. With too few staff to meet the needs of residents, care sometimes suffers, and this can spill over to neglect. And with understaffing, workers are often overworked and stressed, which are both barriers to residents receiving the type and level of care warranted.
Indirectly, neglect can also be due to staff being improperly trained. When nursing homes fail to adequately vet the nurses, nursing aides and assistants, and other caregivers it hires, care can also suffer. This is especially true in cases of negligent hiring practices where nursing if nursing homes fail to practice due diligence when they hire staff with a history of abuse, neglect, or violence or who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect?
The first step to take if you suspect that a loved one in a nursing home is being neglected or abused is to report your suspicions to the proper authorities. Once the incident has been reported, contact our Albuquerque nursing home abuse lawyer for professional legal help from our caring and compassionate team of attorneys. The personal injury attorneys at Branch Law Firm are staunch advocates for the most vulnerable among us. Reach out to us at (505) 317-9955 for a confidential consultation to discuss your concerns or contact us by clicking here.