When a loved one needs constant medical care, you want a nursing home that provides quality health care and personal attention. While most long-term care facilities deliver on those promises, institutional neglect and abuse affect many nursing home residents.
If your family member lives in a nursing home or care setting, be aware of these red flags that may indicate substandard care, neglect and abuse.
Noticeable emotional changes
Your loved one may seem withdrawn and less communicative. He or she may discontinue previously enjoyed activities and isolate from peers and caregivers. Other emotional warning signs of abuse include fear, agitation, mood swings, changes in sleep patterns and loss of appetite. Your family member may seem nervous, startle easily or fear being alone.
By the same token, your family member’s appearance may change with the presence of neglect or abuse. Be vigilant about unexplained cuts, bruises and injuries as well as unexplained weight loss, signs of exhaustion and other worrisome physical changes.
Sometimes, nursing home residents fall victim to financial abuse. If you notice unexplained expenditures, unusual withdrawals, missing documents or paperwork or other abnormalities in your loved one’s accounts, you must investigate further and report the presence of fraud. Look for unexplained charges on statements from the care facility as well.
Symptoms of neglect
If your loved one seems generally unkempt, unwashed or uncomfortable, he or she may receive substandard nursing care. This could include limited diaper changes and showers, lack of in-room cleaning, lack of nutrition, incorrect or inconsistent medication administration, frequent infections or falls and a general lack of care and compassion from staff members.
When you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse, you can file a complaint with the Alabama’s Elder Justice and Advocacy Program in the Department of Senior Services. Individuals who became ill, suffered an injury or had a loved one die as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect may receive financial compensation for their losses.