Nursing home room

5 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect is defined as a situation in which a residential facility fails to provide reasonable care to its residents. Neglect differs from abuse in that neglect generally involves a failure to act.

It’s important to know the signs of nursing home neglect and learn how an injury lawyer can help victims seek fair compensation for the neglect they’ve endured.

How Neglect Happens

Nursing homes take on the responsibility of caring for their residents. Neglect happens when the facility’s staff doesn’t meet your loved one’s needs.

Humans have a range of needs, including:

  • Social interaction
  • Mental stimulation
  • Physical comfort and safety

Nursing home neglect cases usually focus on residents’ physical comfort and safety. Neglect typically occurs when caretakers allow a resident’s comfort and safety to deteriorate by doing nothing.

Five telltale signs of neglect include:

1. Bedsores

Bedsores develop when pressure cuts off the blood flow to an area of the skin and underlying tissues. They usually appear discolored and swollen and may include an open wound in the center where the skin has deteriorated and the fat has collapsed.

Nursing home staff members should regularly move immobile residents. By shifting their positions, the staff relieves pressure on the skin and allows blood to flow to pressure points.

If your loved one has bedsores, it means the nursing home staff has not changed their position often enough.

2. Physical Injuries

In some cases, physical injuries can signify abuse. But physical injuries can also indicate neglect, which leads to physical injuries when residents:

  • Fall out of bed or slip in the bathroom due to a lack of assistance
  • Don’t receive proper medical attention for accidental injuries
  • Are assaulted by other residents due to a lack of supervision

In all of these examples, reasonable care could have prevented or treated the resident’s injuries.

3. Hunger and Dehydration

A common form of neglect comes from food and water deprivation. This can happen for many reasons, including:

  • Cutting corners when preparing and serving food
  • Failing to hire enough staff to feed residents
  • Punishing residents by depriving them of food or water

Unfortunately, weight loss and loss of appetite are common in older adults. But if your loved one always seems hungry or thirsty, they might be experiencing neglect.

4. Dirty Clothes and Bedding

Nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other residential facilities usually provide basic services like cleaning to their residents. Cleaning rooms and washing clothing prevents residents from developing skin conditions and experiencing allergies. When these tasks are abandoned, it often shows in the resident’s appearance.

5. Unkempt Hair and Body Odor

Residential facilities should provide caretakers who can help residents clean themselves, as well as cleaning products and personal hygiene items or ways for residents to obtain them.

If your loved one has unkempt hair or body odor, they might have gone too long without bathing. If you can trace this back to the facility’s caretakers, your loved one might have a claim for negligence.

The Role of an Injury Attorney

An injury lawyer can play a critical role in investigating what’s been going on at a facility. Some unscrupulous facilities prey on the elderly because they often have conditions that prevent them from reporting neglect, such as:

  • Dementia
  • Speech difficulties
  • Memory loss

Caretakers can also count on the residents’ shame and embarrassment about not being able to care for themselves to keep them from complaining.

A lawyer can request records from the facility. They can also research whether past residents filed lawsuits against the facility for neglect. And once litigation begins, they can take depositions of current and former staff members who may have witnessed neglect.

To discuss what an injury lawyer can do to help your loved one victimized by nursing home neglect, contact Hunt Law, a personal injury law firm in Northern New Mexico.