Nursing Home Neglect is not always recognized. Learn to look out for the signs of nursing home neglect to protect your loved ones:
- Pressure Sores – Anyone whose mobility is hampered or who is confined to a bed or wheelchair is at risk of developing pressures sores (bedsores). Nursing staff is responsible for regularly adjusting the position of immobile residents to encourage adequate circulation. A family member should regularly check the pressure points on the buttocks, legs, elbows and heels for evidence of pressure sores. Pressure sores start out as reddened area that do not blanch when pressed. If not attended to properly, the pressure can cause underlying tissue to break down and become infected. If left unattended they can be life threatening.
- Falls – If your loved one has a balance problem or has difficulty waking, make sure the nursing home staff has a written plan in place to provide assistance while walking. Don’t allow the facility to ignore your loved one’s desire to walk simply because assistance is necessary.
- Dehydration – Lack of fluids can cause confusion which may be misdiagnosed as dementia. Lack of fluids can also cause other conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney failure, and skin breakdown. Make sure adequate beverages are available and your loved one drinks plenty of fluids.
- Malnutrition – Watch for weight loss. If a loved one needs help eating, make sure he is being fed and is allowed plenty of time to eat (an hour or more for some). If your loved one is fed at bedside and is left unattended, make sure he has eaten the food before the kitchen help takes the tray away. Watch how the nursing assistants feed your loved one. If the assistants are rushed, they may not permit your loved one enough time to chew and swallow. This can lead to choking, aspiration of food and pneumonia.
- Poor Infection Control – Infection control is poor in many nursing homes and nurses are often reluctant to call doctors until symptoms become serious. If your loved one experiences any sign of infection (fever, a burning sensation during urination, dark, cloudy or foul smelling urine or a lack of energy), it is important to insist on a doctor’s diagnosis before a problem becomes life threatening.
- Failure to Toilet – If your loved one needs assistance with using the toilet, a facility with insufficient staffing will be motivated to use diapers because it is perceived as being less work. Don’t permit this to occur because it will be more difficult for your loved one to self-regulate their bowel and bladder function. Insist that your loved one be taken to the toilet regularly. Incontinence can lead to urinary tract and other infections. Make sure to ask your loved ones whether their requests for toilet assistance are being ignored or if they are experiencing any of the symptoms of urinary tract infection such as burning urination, dark, cloudy or foul smelling urine.
- Medication Errors – Write down all the medications your loved one is supposed to get and make sure they get all of them. Once medication is ordered, call or visit to insure that they are, in fact, administered as soon as they are prescribed. Discuss your loved ones’ medications with the attending physician to learn whether they interact negatively with one another. Can the medication your loved one is taking cause confusion, depression or a loss of appetite?
- Inadequate Staffing and Training – Nursing assistants provide most of the hands-on caregiving in nursing homes. Find out how many nursing assistants there are on each shift and compare that to the number of residents they are responsible for.
If the ratio is more than 9 residents per assistant, make sure you visit to see if the residents’ needs are being met. Even if the ratio is less than 9 residents per assistant, check to see if the assistants can handle the workload, especially if there are many high maintenance residents at the facility.
If you or someone you know has suffered illness, injury or worse at a nursing home and needs a Nursing Home Neglect Attorney, contact us today to set up a free consultation. There is no obligation.