Placing your loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision, but sometimes it's necessary if you're unable to care for them at home. You want to trust the nursing facility gives the best of care, but sometimes that's not the case. It's a good practice to check your loved one frequently at various times of the day and keep watch for signs of neglect and abuse. Here are some of the signs that your loved one could be mistreated.
Medical conditions can also cause a loss of weight, but you should be concerned if your loved one has a sudden loss of weight or if the weight loss is gradual and steady. This could indicate neglect at mealtime. If the nursing home is understaffed, your loved one may not be given the time needed to complete meals, especially if they need total assistance to eat and their meals take a long time. Weight loss could also be a sign of depression or fear over their treatment. Visit the nursing home at mealtimes to see if your parent is being fed and provided enough nutrition, or if food is placed before them and then taken away without enough assistance being provided.
Ask if meals are being documented and how much is eaten at each meal. Compare that to how much your loved one eats when you feed them in a relaxed and slow manner. If you think your loved one is losing weight because they are not being fed because it's time consuming, take action quickly to protect your loved one's health.
Bruises and skin tears could be a sign of abuse. Elderly people often develop thin skin that tears and bruises easily when it is handled with too much pressure. Restraint marks around the waist, chest, or wrists should be cause for alarm as those are signs your loved one is being tied down tightly. Broken bones, even if from a fall, should be investigated as those could indicate your loved one was not supervised as needed. If you see signs of physical abuse, you'll want to get help right away. This could even involve calling the police to investigate.
While it might be normal for your loved one to have a period of depression and increased confusion after being placed in a nursing home, changes in emotional or mental behavior could also be a sign of abuse or neglect. If your loved one is more aggressive, they may not be getting their usual medications on schedule. This could point to an employee stealing patients' drugs. If your loved one is suddenly lethargic all the time, the nursing home may be using chemical restraints rather than taking time to properly supervise and engage with your parent. Changes in behavior could also result from frustration and anger at mistreatment, especially if your loved one is unable to express themselves verbally.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, you want to take quick action so it stops immediately. You may want family to stay at their beside all day and night until you know what course of action to take. You want your loved one to stay safe, which might mean moving to a new facility. However, you also want the nursing home to be held accountable for mistreating your loved one. Talk to an attorney about how to proceed. You may need to gather documentation and photographic evidence of patient mistreatment that can be used in court and to give police. A nursing home abuse attorney can help get justice for the way your loved one was treated and hopefully keep the nursing home from doing the same to others in the future.