If you recently moved an elderly loved one into a Washington nursing home, you may have done so with reticence and hesitation. Even though you know that it was the best choice due to the level of care your aging family member needs, you probably hear or see far too many stories of nursing home neglect and abuse, whether in the media or from people you know personally.
Just like those families, you did your due diligence and chose the facility you felt would provide the best care possible. You spoke with administrators and toured the nursing home, keeping your eye out for anything out of place that would make you reject it as a contender. Lately, you may have begun to wonder whether you made the right choice after all. You suspect something isn't right, but are not sure how to know for sure.
Common signs of neglect or abuse
When you visit your loved one, you may want to keep an eye out for the following signs of potential neglect or abuse:
- Does our loved one's room look clean? What about his or her bedding and clothes? Do the communal dining areas, kitchen and other common areas look clean? If you can't answer yes to these questions with confidence, then a problem may exist.
- Under the same category of cleanliness, your family member should also look and smell clean. Overgrown nails, body odor and an unkempt appearance could also signal that something just isn't right.
- Movement often plays a large role in health and well-being. If your loved one doesn't appear to move around much, if at all, neglect may play a role in the decline of his or her mobility. Remaining sedentary for long periods could also lead to bedsores and other infections.
- This leads to the need to search for or question unexplained injuries. Elderly people often bump into things and bruise more easily than younger people do, but when bruises appear too regularly, it could indicate a problem. Obviously, head injuries, broken bones and other moderate to serious injuries require some investigation.
- Has your loved one lost a significant amount of weight? Are his or her lips cracked or chapped? Can you identify other potential indicators of malnutrition or dehydration? By the time you see the physical effects of dehydration or malnutrition, you can bet the problem has existed for some time.
You may wonder why your family member didn't tell you that there is a problem. In many cases, the psychological and emotional impact of negligence or abuse often causes an individual to shut down. Fear, shame and embarrassment may also keep him or her from speaking out regarding any abuse or neglect. You may notice that your loved one remains distant, cowers or retreats from people. These behaviors all indicate something is wrong.
Common reactions to neglect or abuse
If you do suspect that the staff members of the nursing home subject your loved one to neglect or abuse, one of your first reactions will more than likely include anger and sadness. These reactions are completely normal and common. However, it may help your loved one more to keep a cool head. Once you can arrange to ensure his or her safety, it may be a good idea to pursue all legal avenues possible to seek compensation for the harm done to your loved one.