If you have a loved one that is in a nursing home, and you want to know if the patient is being taken care of, attended to, and having his or her needs met, you may think that you can just ask him or her.
For some patients, that may be true. But many nursing home patients are physically unable to speak, or else, may have cognitive difficulties that make it nearly impossible for them to convey to you what may have happened in the past.
As family or close friends, you certainly cannot be in the nursing home every minute, to ensure the safety of your loved one.
So given the inherent communication barriers between patient and family that can be present in a nursing home setting, how do you know if a loved one is being taken care of—or worse, how would you know if they are not?
When nursing home abuse is happening in North Carolina, connecting with a North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer is essential.
Looking for Physical Signs
Of course, there are always physical signs like bruising, sores, broken bones, red marks or sores on the skin, or other physical signs that can’t be explained by anything else, such as an already existing medical condition.
However, outside of the blatantly physical signs of abuse, how can you tell that a loved one may not be getting the care he or she needs—or worse, that they may be getting abused—when the loved one can’t fully or adequately communicate?
Changes in Behavior and Attitude
There are some signs and signals that you can look for, to see if your loved one is being taken care of, and attended to. These should be warning signs, which would alert you that maybe some further inquiry is needed, as to the care that your loved one is receiving.
One very big sign is a change in behavior that isn’t otherwise explained by anything else, such as a medical condition. For example, if your loved one were to start to abuse him or herself. Or, if your loved one were to start losing bladder or bowel control when that was never previously a problem.
Unusual physical signs, like rocking back and forth, picking at one’s own skin, or other nervous habits that suddenly appear without explanation, can be signs of elder abuse or neglect.
The same goes for severe bouts of depression or sadness, which didn’t exist beforehand, and which are unexplained. Sudden onset dementia also may be a sign.
Sexual Abuse and Neglect
Sadly, sexual abuse is prevalent in many nursing homes—both at the hands of staff, but also at the hands of other residents (the nursing home can be liable for sexual assaults and batteries committed by other residents, where they knew of the possibility that it would happen and failed to do anything about it). Some studies have shown that one in five nursing home residents is a victim of some form of abuse.
Any of the above-mentioned symptoms or signs can evidence sexual abuse or battery, as can damage to a patient’s underwear, excessive bruising, bleeding, or genital infections or diseases.
Look Around the Nursing Home – and the Resident
As a family, you should also look at the patients’ surroundings; generally, the patient will be cared for with the same level of attention as his or her surroundings are cared for.
Is the nursing home dirty, cluttered, or disorganized? Is there exposed wiring? Is uneaten food left out for extended periods of time before being thrown away? Are the bedsheets clean and stain-free?
Look at your loved one. Is he or she dressed appropriately for the weather? Is his or her weight consistent, or is the patient gaining or losing weight? How clean are his or her clothes? If your loved one is mobile and can move around on her own power, is the area around her free from clutter or items that she could fall over?
A Raleigh Nursing Home Lawyer That Fights For You
Few of these factors alone are definite signs of abuse, but they are all things that you should look for, and clues that you may want to start looking a bit closer about the care that your loved one is getting in the nursing home.
Remember as family, you certainly have a right to ask about the care that your loved one is getting—and the staff’s willingness to assist you, and to answer your questions, also is a telling sign about the care that your loved one is getting. Staff should be more than willing to get you whatever information you need about your loved one, so you can answer that they are not being abused or neglected.
Nursing home abuse can be devastating and deadly. We can help you if a loved one has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home. Contact our team at Gugenheim Law today to request a no-obligation consultation.