When we’re unable to provide our elderly loved ones with the care they need, we rely on nursing homes and similar facilities to care for them. But out from under our watchful eyes, these institutions or staff at such places may not treat our family members with the care and respect they deserve. Since your loved one may not be able to protect themselves from neglect or abuse, they depend on you to recognize if their situation is unsafe. Here are the ten major signs of elder abuse or neglect to watch out for after placing your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living center:
1. Dehydration or malnourishment
Food and water are primary needs of all people, and if your loved one isn’t able to eat when hungry, drink when thirst, or isn’t being fed nutritious meals, they are being neglected and their health is at stake.
2. Unexplained injuries
If your loved one has bruises, scrapes, cuts, broken bones, or other injures that you weren’t alerted to, that the facility refuses to comment on, and that your loved one refuses to talk about, it’s possible that he or she is being abused, or at least neglected. These injuries could be from direct abuse from caretakers or other patients, or from neglect or carelessness that lead to falls or injuries on furniture.
3. Unclean rooms, clothing, or bed linens
Care facilities should be clean, as should your loved one’s clothes, sheets, and blankets. If you find that your loved one is wearing clothes that stink or that their room hasn’t been cleaned in two months, that is unacceptable, and could exacerbate or spread germs and disease.
4. Patient complaints
Don’t assume that your crotchety father is just at it again when he complains about the care he’s receiving. It’s possible that his complaints mask a deeper or more serious problem than he’s able to express, for fear of repercussions from the staff, in abusive environments. If your loved one complains about their care, take that complaint seriously, as they may not be able to do anything about it themselves.
Bedsores are a sure sign that something is wrong, because bedsores develop from prolonged pressure on the skin, such as being left in bed or a chair for extended periods of time. Bedsores are painful and can become infected. If untreated, they can be deadly.
6. More pain than normal
If your loved one is experiencing a lot of pain, more that usual in their condition, it could be because of abuse or neglect in their institution, whether from physical abuse or falls, or from failure to administer pain meds on schedule or other neglect.
7. More frequent falls
If your loved one is falling a lot, more than they have in the past, this could be the result of neglect or abuse. The falls could be occurring because necessary assistance in getting around isn’t given by the staff, or “he fell” could be a lie to cover physical abuse.
8. Extreme depression
If your loved one is extremely depressed, and this is out of character, it may be because the facility is not providing adequate care or stimulation for its patients. Even if your love one is not physically unwell, an environment that offers no recreation, socialization, or entertainment can be injurious to mental health.
9. Improper administration of medications
Timely and accurate dispensation of medication is crucial for the health, well-being, and survival of those who are prescribed them. If the facility frequently forgets doses, mixes up patients’ medications, or otherwise fails to give medication as prescribed, that constitutes neglect.
If your loved one seems afraid, for instance, afraid to say anything negative about the facility or the staff, or afraid to do anything that will make the staff angry, it could be due to an abusive environment.