The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that approximately one million seniors are abused or neglected across the United States each year. Sadly, experts allegedly believe such abuse is highly underreported. Too often, abuse by a caregiver may be simply overlooked. A number of warning signs should raise red flags for the families of individuals who reside in nursing homes in Illinois and across the nation.
First, family members of elderly and disabled skilled nursing facility residents should keep an eye out for any marked physical or emotional changes in their loved one. It is important to take note if a friend or relative becomes withdrawn or stops taking part in activities he or she previously enjoyed. Fear, unexplained weight loss, and symptoms of depression may also become apparent. If a loved one is being physically abused or neglected, he or she may suffer broken bones, bedsores, and unexplained bruises. Although some of these symptoms may simply be a normal part of the aging or disease process, it is always a good idea to watch how nursing home staff interacts with your family member during unexpected visits.
Another potential red flag occurs when facility staff regularly cannot or refuses to answer any questions about a loved one’s care. In addition, a refusal or lack of interest on the part of a skilled nursing facility to address any health issues such as unexplained weight loss may be cause for concern regarding the quality of care your family member is receiving.
Sometimes, staff at a nursing home will undoubtedly be busy or in the midst of a stressful event. If workers at a facility always seem frantic or have a bad attitude, however, it is important to take note. In addition, chronic understaffing and high turnover rates can also signal underlying problems at a skilled nursing facility. Consistent and quality staffing is an integral part of providing appropriate resident care.
Dehydration is reportedly the most common symptom of nursing home neglect across the country. Unfortunately, insufficient staffing levels can often lead to missed meals. Similarly, complaints regarding the amount of time it takes for employees to respond to your relative’s needs should also be taken seriously and investigated. If a nursing home is not endeavoring to improve the quality of care provided, families should definitely take note.
Even if your loved one is experiencing cognitive issues such as dementia, distress or discomfort around a particular facility employee should not be taken lightly. Such situations may be the result of neglect or other mistreatment. Do not hesitate to trust your gut if you feel uneasy regarding the care your loved one is receiving.
Mistreatment at skilled nursing facilities is not always easy to identify. Sadly, when an elderly or disabled nursing home patient is suffering neglect or abuse at the hands of a caregiver, he or she may become depressed, experience a change in appetite, and complain to family members about any mistreatment. Any suspected cases of abuse or neglect by a nursing home worker should be taken seriously and reported immediately. You should contact a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your concerns.