How to Spot Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

How to Spot Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Millions of Americans live in long-term care facilities — nursing or assisted living facilities. In recent years, the widespread concern of abuse and neglect have really come to light. Though it’s often necessary for a loved one to have to reside in one of these facilities, it can be scary for families. Learn what to look for to know if your loved one is being mistreated.

First you should know that there are federal and state regulations that govern the treatment of residents residing in long-term care facilities. These regulations state that residents have the right to be free from physical, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. Abuse is defined as an intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care/service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish. Neglect is defined as a failure, intentional or not, to provide a person with the care and services necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain, a failure to react to a potentially dangerous situation resulting in resident harm or anxiety.

Long-term care regulations protect residents from:

  • Assault – kicking, slapping, pinching, pushing, shaking, hitting
  • Threats of injury
  • Refusal of care for medical problems
  • Rape and other sexual assault
  • Restraints – physical, chemical or through threats
  • Insufficient care being provided

So now that you know your loved one’s rights within the facility, how do you know if something is amiss? Here are some of the most common signs that your loved one is being abused or neglected. Please remember, though, that some of these signs do not necessarily mean abuse. Seniors can fall in a facility with the most loving caregivers, and the elderly may refuse baths, which is their right. Weigh the circumstances surrounding any incidents with your loved one before accusing the facility of neglect or abuse.

Common Signs of Abuse and Neglect

  • Bed sores/pressure ulcers
  • Bruises
  • Falls or fractures
  • Elopement
  • Infections
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Hesitating to speak in the presence of staff members
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Isolation
  • Heavy sedation
  • Poor communication with family about instances

What can you do to keep your loved one as safe as possible?

  • Heavily research all facilities. There are state websites that rate each facility and can help guide your decision. You can also search through to view ratings.
  • Visit often. Research shows that residents who receive frequent visitors and have high involvement receive better care. The more eyes on your loved one the better. You may wish to set up a visitation schedule to have various family members cover each day of the week.
  • Develop a rapport with caregivers. Learn their names and offer thanks for the care they provide.
  • Attend regular care planning meetings. These meetings are held quarterly and offer a chance for family members to meet with the entire interdisciplinary team responsible for caring for your loved one.

And if you do feel your loved one is being abused or neglected, you may report it to the nursing home director of nursing or administrator or file an official complaint with the state health department.

If you are in need of additional company for your loved one, Errand Works provides companionship services, offering an extra set of caring eyes on your loved one. Call us to discuss how we can help ensure your loved one receives the best possible services.

Errand Works is licensed and insured in the state of Virginia. Every errand runner must pass a Virginia State Criminal Background Check prior to being hired. All errand runners are bonded and are Virginia state notaries. For more information, please go to our Contact Us page.