Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

Entrusting an elder relative to a nursing home or other assisted living facility is a hard decision that is often accompanied by anxiety. You cannot exercise daily supervision over how they are treated, so you necessarily rely on what they tell you when you speak with them by phone or on visits. However, there is a lot that can go wrong at these facilities, ranging from simple accidents to actual neglect or abuse of residents by staff. It’s important to recognize the signs that your loved one is possibly being mistreated so that you can take corrective action.

Abuse and neglect at nursing homes can manifest themselves in various forms. Here are categories of common signs to look for:

  1. Physical — A patient may exhibit unexplained bruises or cuts. Bedsores may indicate neglect in providing proper care. Other red flags are malnutrition, dehydration and poor personal hygiene.

  2. Emotional — There may be unusual changes in behavior, such as sudden withdrawal or fear, especially around certain staff members. Other signs are depression, anxiety and isolation from other residents or family members.

  3. Verbal — Listen for the resident’s complaints of mistreatment or abuse, including statements that indicate fear of specific staff members. Also be alert to inconsistent or conflicting explanations of injuries or incidents.

  4. Environmental — Unsanitary living conditions can include dirty or soiled bedding; lack of necessary medical aids or assistive devices; and inadequate heating, cooling or lighting. 

  5. Staffing problems — Watch out for understaffing and cutbacks on necessary supplies. Other problematic issues are high staff turnover and the presence of staff members who seem untrained or unqualified for their roles.

  6. Financial — A resident’s personal belongings or valuables may go missing and there may be unauthorized use of the resident's financial resources by administrative staff.

  7. Medical — Examples of medical neglect are delayed or inadequate care; overmedication or inappropriate use of medication; and failure to follow prescribed medical treatments.

  8. Documentation and communication — In the course of your visits, you may notice lack of communication by staff, as well as inconsistent or incomplete medical records. 

  9. Staff misbehavior — Staff may ignore concerns raised by residents or their families or may exhibit aggressive or disrespectful behavior towards residents. 

If you notice any of these signs in the course of visiting your loved one, you need to take action promptly. Report your concerns to the nursing home administration, local authorities or adult protective services. An experienced nursing home injury attorney can assist you in identifying and remediating neglect or abuse.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood represents injured nursing home residents throughout northern New Jersey. Call our law firm at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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