How to know if nursing home neglect impacts your loved one's care

Placing a loved one in an assisted living facility is typically a decision people make when they worry that they cannot provide an adequate standard of care on their own and that their loved one can not live safely without daily support.

For some people, the issue is a result of a busy lifestyle, including work obligations or the need to care for their children, making the care of parents or siblings impossible to provide. For others, there may not be availability issues so much as there is an issue with their ability to provide the kind of care that their loved one needs. The more care and assistance older adults need, the harder it is for their family members to manage the care without help.

Once your loved one moves into a nursing home facility, you might assume that you won't have to worry about their care. However, your loved one will be at risk for neglect or even abuse for as long as they live in a nursing home facility. Watching for signs of neglect can help you advocate most effectively for your aging loved one.

Nursing staff should address all of the residents' basic needs

The needs of each resident in the facility will vary based on their age and medical condition. The staff at the facility should understand the limitations facing each resident and help them deal with and overcome these issues. From assisting residents in getting dressed to making sure people remain dry and clean if they can't use the bathroom independently, there are many important tasks that the staff at a nursing home perform on behalf of your loved one.

Wound care, rotation to prevent bedsores and strength/range of motion exercises are all tasks that staff can perform to protect your loved one and improve their overall quality of life. Many of these tasks are essential to the long-term health of your loved one.

If you arrive for a visit and find your loved one sitting in soiled clothing, dealing with unkempt hair or strong body odors, or complaining of bedsores caused by inadequate support and rotation, those can all be early warning signs of neglect.

Document anything out of the ordinary that you notice

You should not assume that what you witness during the visit is an exceptional or unusual occurrence. Instead of writing off troubling issues, such as arriving to find your loved one in soiled clothing, you should address these issues as soon as they arise and write them down for your own records.

Making a record of your own, potentially in a notebook specifically carried for that purpose, can help you determine if there is a pattern of neglectful behavior and prove that you have brought issues to the attention of staff as you noticed them. That documentation can help you if you need to bring a claim against the facility and move your loved one to a safer nursing home in the future.

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