Know the signs of nurs­ing home ne­glect and abuse

Help pro­tect your loved ones by know­ing what to look for

The Covington News - - MEDICAL UPDATE -

A de­ci­sion many peo­ple have to face is whether or not to place their par­ents in the care of a nurs­ing home. A dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to say the least, that dif­fi­culty is typ­i­cally com­pounded by se­niors who are re­sis­tant to en­ter­ing a home.

A fear of po­ten­tial abuse or ne­glect of their rel­a­tives can be one com­po­nent that makes the nurs­ing home de­ci­sion more dif­fi­cult. Rec­og­niz­ing whether abuse or ne­glect is tak­ing place can be chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially for the rel­a­tives of el­derly peo­ple suf­fer­ing from con­di­tions such as de­men­tia that can greatly dis­tort their sense of re­al­ity. In such in­stances, re­ports of abuse or ne­glect are hard to be­lieve and might be looked at as at­tempts to get at­ten­tion.

Many nurs­ing homes take their res­i­dents’ care se­ri­ously and are com­pas­sion­ate. Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, there are some homes that may be ne­glect­ful of a res­i­dents’ needs. In such in­stances, par­tic­u­larly if the res­i­dent is suf­fer­ing from me­mory loss, Alzheimer’s dis­ease or an­other con­di­tion that could af­fect their point of view, vis­i­tors need to know the warn­ing signs of ne­glect or abuse and spring into ac­tion if any of those warn­ing signs are preva­lent.


The staff at a nurs­ing home has nu­mer­ous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, which leaves room for po­ten­tial ne­glect if the home is un­der­staffed or the ex­ist­ing staff is un­der­qual­i­fied. That ne­glect can come in many dif­fer­ent forms.

Phys­i­cal ne­glect: Phys­i­cal ne­glect of­ten re­veals it­self in the ab­sence of life’s daily ne­ces­si­ties, such as ad­e­quate toi­letries, soaps, etc. If vis­its reg­u­larly re­veal th­ese items are in short sup­ply or are not there at all, chances are your rel­a­tive is not get­ting the best care pos­si­ble.

Men­tal ne­glect: Nurs­ing home res­i­dents need daily in­ter­ac­tion with other peo­ple just like ev­ery­one else. While some res­i­dents’ di­min­ish­ing men­tal con­di­tion might limit their abil­i­ties to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers, some­one should be spend­ing time with your rel­a­tive on a daily ba­sis, be it other res­i­dents or staff.

Med­i­cal ne­glect: Nurs­ing home res­i­dents of­ten have ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions that re­quire daily at­ten­tion. If ne­glected, the sever­ity of th­ese con­di­tions of­ten es­ca­lates. A big rea­son many peo­ple place el­derly rel­a­tives in nurs­ing homes is so staff can pro­vide the care that rel­a­tives can­not. Med­i­ca­tion needs to be given (and ac­cepted by res­i­dents) on the sched­ule pre­scribed by a doc­tor, and any new guide­lines need to be fol­lowed. Phys­i­cal ther­apy should be ad­hered to if pre­scribed by a doc­tor.

Med­i­cal ne­glect is also no­tice­able if a nurs­ing home res­i­dent is reg­u­larly suf­fer­ing from de­hy­dra­tion, bed sores or mal­nu­tri­tion. Th­ese con­di­tions sug­gest a staff that is in­dif­fer­ent to your rel­a­tive’s needs. Also, if in­fec­tions are com­mon or con­di­tions that pro­mote in­fec­tion (un­san­i­tary bed­rooms and bath­rooms, for ex­am­ple) are ev­i­dent, that’s a case of med­i­cal ne­glect.


Like ne­glect, abuse can come in many forms. Un­like ne­glect, how­ever, abuse can be harder to rec­og­nize, par­tic­u­larly if a rel­a­tive is suf­fer­ing from di­min­ished men­tal ca­pac­ity.

Phys­i­cal abuse: Phys­i­cal abuse can run the gamut, rang­ing from sex­ual as­saults to mi­nor scrapes and cuts. Unex- plained in­juries, un­rea­son­able phys­i­cal re­straint if a per­son needs help mov­ing, and wrong­fully dis­ci­plin­ing a per­son by slap­ping, push­ing, or shak­ing all qual­ify as phys­i­cal abuse and should not be tol­er­ated, re­gard­less of a per­son’s men­tal state. If staff is quick to med­i­cate as a means of calm­ing a res­i­dent down, that as well is phys­i­cal abuse.

Emo­tional abuse: Pa­tients who are emo­tion­ally up­set, ex­tremely with­drawn or have lit­tle de­sire to com­mu­ni­cate could be vic­tims of emo­tional abuse. Un­usual be­hav­ior one might ex­pect of a young child could also in­di­cate a res­i­dent has been emo­tion­ally abused. A res­i­dent whose de­meanor changes from pleas­ant and wel­com­ing to com­bat­ive and abu­sive could also be a vic­tim of emo­tional abuse.

Th­ese are just a few of the signs that might in­di­cate a nurs­ing home res­i­dent has been abused or ne­glected. Any­one con­sid­er­ing nurs­ing homes should look for a place close to their home, so they can be a reg­u­lar part of the per­son’s life and en­sure that staff is treat­ing their rel­a­tive in a hu­mane and pro­fes­sional way.

Metro Creative Ser­vices

Qual­ity care: A good nurs­ing home will mon­i­tor and stay up to date on all of a res­i­dent’s needs.

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