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Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse

How to Spot Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse in a Loved One

Experienced lawyers in Media, PA urge vigilance on behalf of seniors

If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, you want them to receive the very best care. But, short of moving into the facility yourself, what can you do to ensure quality care and prevent abuse or neglect? At Noel & Bonebrake, we want your senior loved one to be safe. We offer the following advice to help you remain vigilant so you can spot problems early and get the immediate assistance you need to protect your vulnerable family member.

Strategies for discovering abuse and neglect

The most important step you can take as an advocate for a senior in a nursing home is to visit often. Let the staff see you and get to know you. Let them know you are watching carefully. Also, be sure to vary the times of your visits. You don’t want to be predictable, or the staff will start catering to your arrival rather than tending to your loved one’s needs.

During your visits, look for signs of abuse and neglect such as:

  • A change in your loved one’s attitude or mood — If your loved one seems listless or depressed, there could be a physical reason, such as malnutrition, dehydration or overmedication. There could also be a psychological cause, such as fear, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.
  • Physical signs — It is important to visually inspect your loved one for signs of neglect, such as red spots on the heels, elbows, buttocks and back, that could erupt into bedsores. Bruises and discoloration can be a sign of rough handling or deliberate abuse.
  • Unhygienic conditions — Foul odors, dust on the floors, soiled bedclothes and soiled gowns are inexcusable marks of neglect.
  • Staff behavior — Are members of the staff cordial, energetic, and alert? Are they knowledgeable of your loved one’s physical concerns? Or are they sullen, slow-moving, and uninterested? If you hear a staff member yelling or berating another resident, you must assume this could happen to your loved one.
  • Management’s responsiveness — If you bring your concerns to a manager’s attention, does that person respond with a plan of action?

It’s also very helpful for you to keep a journal, documenting the warning signs and your exchanges with staff and management about your loved one’s issues. Take pictures of anything that is amiss, such as bruising on your loved one or unsanitary conditions.

What to do if you suspect elder abuse

Your first recourse is to bring your complaints to the management of the facility. If management does not address the problem to your satisfaction, you can file a facility complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Unfortunately, the DOH does not have the resources to respond aggressively to every complaint. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging oversees enforcement of the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA). The department maintains a statewide elder abuse hotline that people can call 24 hours a day. But this service is geared more toward elders who are neglected or abused in their own homes by family members.

Often your best bet is to contact an elder law or personal injury attorney with experience in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. If a facility manager knows you are willing to take legal action, they have a strong incentive to improve care before their neglect causes harm they’ll have to pay for. Our attorneys at Noel & Bonebrake have ample knowledge and experience with this area of the law, and we are determined to protect vulnerable seniors whenever necessary.

Contact our injury attorneys in Media for advice on nursing home abuse and neglect

If you have seen signs indicating your elder loved one might be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, Noel & Bonebrake can provide effective representation. Call us today at 215-600-3189 or contact our Media office online to schedule a free consultation.

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