Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Knowing the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse could save the life of your loved one. There are some basic signs of abuse and neglect that should alert you to the fact that your loved one may not be in a safe place and may need help:
- Sudden or ongoing weight loss: Weight loss is very dangerous as it leads to dehydration and malnutrition. When the body loses weight, water is lost. Water is vital to proper organ functioning and without enough water, dehydration can occur, reducing the blood's ability to deliver nutrients to the body. When a person doesn't eat regular, balanced meals, the body will burn fat deposits for energy. When the fat deposits are gone, the body will begin to burn muscle, including heart muscle. A frail, elderly person is at severe risk for becoming malnourished and developing a life threatening infection or illness. Nursing home residents may be especially prone to weight loss if they are not receiving or finishing their meals. Certain medications can affect the appetite and sense of taste and smell. If a resident is restrained, this will lead to weight loss as the resident may not be allowed or able to eat. If your loved one is experiencing sudden or ongoing weight loss, this could be a sign of abuse or neglect. You should expect the nursing home to provide healthy, appetizing meals that your loved one receives in a timely manner and is encouraged to finish.
- Bedsores: Bedsores, also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers are sores that appear on the skin and if left untreated, can become deep enough to leave muscles, tendons and bones exposed. Bedsores are caused by prolonged pressure due to residents being forced to lie in one position for long periods of time. This pressure on the skin causes tissue death as the skin and muscle tissue does not receive adequate nutrients from the blood. Often, the dead tissue requires painful surgical removal. There is simply no excuse for bedsores. Bedsores are easily preventable by proper care, such as changing a resident's position regularly and providing adequate nutrition.
- Restraints: Restraints, both physical and chemical are used by nursing homes to make residents "manageable". What this really means is that residents are severely limited in their mobility, thus making them easy to care for. This is neglect and puts your loved one at risk so that the nursing staff can have the convenience of "not caring for" their residents. Signs that your loved one is being physically restrained include bruising from leg or arm restraints, vest or jacket restraints, rope burns, waist belts, hand cuffs, bedrails or lap bars. Pharmaceutical abuse does not leave behind physical marks and may be difficult to detect. If your loved one appears dazed and unresponsive, you have the right to request that medication orders are closely monitored. Only a doctor can prescribe physical or chemical restraints. You have the right to expect a nursing home to provide a safe place for your loved one, free of the humiliation and anxiety of being restrained against his/her will just to make life easier for the nursing home staff.
If you or a loved one has been harmed while a nursing home resident, contact our Oklahoma Nursing Home Abuse Legal Team for advice about protecting your legal rights and seeking recompense for injury. Please contact Ray Maples for a free case evaluation about the injury suffered by your loved one. Call us toll-free any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 226-6159. If you are from Oklahoma City, you can also call (405) 551-8864.