Neglect of the Elderly in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes exist to shelter and care for our elders. They also have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care to older and infirm people who are entrusted to them. While abuse has been the longtime focus of elder care advocates, neglect is becoming a more prominent concern. Neglect is broadly defined as the refusal or failure of a caregiver or nursing home to provide any food, medicine, shelter, clothing, supervision, medical care, and services that a prudent person would deem essential for the well-being of an elder under care.
Neglect is often accompanied by physical, emotional, or financial abuse. Tragically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens are neglected and abused every year in this country. Countless others suffer maltreatment but are unwilling or unable to report it.
Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Neglect
Elder abuse presents certain difficulties as a result of the age of the victims. Since the residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities may be disabled or unable to communicate normally with loved ones, it is thought that a shocking 1 out of 6 instances of neglect and abuse actually go unreported. For family members of elderly patients, it can also be a challenge to tell the difference between certain forms of self-neglect that occur with aging and affirmative maltreatment.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect include:
- Lack of basic exercises, including range of motion
- Open or festering wounds
- Lack of regular baths and personal hygiene
- Lack of or inadequate oral and dental care
- Failure to replace diapers and clothing after an episode of incontinence
- Ignoring or isolating bedfast residents
- Transferring residents using an insufficient number of staff members
- Failing to keep residents hydrated
- Refusing to answer call for help lights and signals
- Failing to assist residents to the toilet when asked
- Being left wet or soiled with feces
Preventing Nursing Home Neglect
Many in the public health sector refer to elder abuse as an “invisible epidemic.” The single most effective way for family members or guardians to prevent elder maltreatment is to visit relatives in nursing home or care facilities as often as possible. Upon visiting a facility, keep an eye out for unacceptable or unhealthy conditions within the facility. When visiting with a loved one, try to meet with them alone and talk to them, ask lots of questions, and most importantly listen to them. It can be very difficult for victims to report abuse out of misplaced feelings of shame and guilt. Instead, counteract self-blame by empowering and encouraging your elder to speak up when they don’t feel well or aren’t being treated well. That way, if they ever do suffer some form of emotional or physical abuse, they will be primed to report it to you before it gets out of control.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
No matter how vigilant we are, we cannot watch our loved ones all the time. For those with an elder who has suffered neglect or abuse while under the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us immediately to protect your legal rights. You can reach our team of elder abuse attorneys toll-free at 1-855-462-3330 or by using our online contact form.