Having a loved one in a nursing home is in many ways like having a child in extended daycare. In both situations, the person is vulnerable, and you have to trust your loved one is being properly cared for. You must depend on your own gut feelings and be very aware of signs of maltreatment or abuse, otherwise, your loved one could be enduring some type of victimization.
Spotting Nursing Home Abuse
In most cases, nursing home abuse is not going to be blatant. Additionally, if your loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, there’s the chance the abuse can go unnoticed and chalked up to a manifestation of their mental state. Regardless, any questions about abuse need to be addressed and investigated. Here are a few of the signs to look for:
- Changes in the behavior and personality of your loved one. You know your loved one well enough to know when something is not right. If you notice a change in their demeanor, you may want to investigate further.
- Strained relationships between the caregiver and the patient/resident. If the elderly person does not want their caregiver around or has a reaction when he or she is present it’s safe to assume that something is going on.
- Unexplained broken bones, dislocations or sprains. Elderly people can be frail and their bones can break easily, usually with a fall. If there is no reasonable explanation, you should request an investigation into the matter.
- Scars, bruising or welts on the body; these may not be in areas that can readily be seen. Clothing may hide telltale signs of abuse.
- If the caregiver does not want you to be alone with the elderly person, you can assume there is a problem.
There are standards that nursing homes must abide by. There are often headlines in the news, however, about someone being mistreated or victimized in some way. Unfortunately, these instances are not necessarily rare. Many facilities are understaffed and, of that personnel taking up the slack, many are overworked and underpaid, so patience is short. Additionally, if staff are not properly vetted, a predator may be taking care of the one you love.
Nursing Home Credentials
Keep in mind that credentials for nursing homes are geared to meet minimum requirements. Some facilities will just meet them, while others will go beyond, in order to provide the best in safety and comfort for residents. Still, there will be some places that will intentionally or unintentionally try to fly below the radar and miss meeting even these minimum standards. Even well-established facilities may have staff who occasionally take shortcuts around the requirements.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) maintains a list of nursing homes and the results of inspections. You can find out if the facility has had any violations or complaints, and whether or not those issues were resolved.
The law offices of Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., specializing in personal injury cases. If you believe your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, give us a call for a free initial consultation. We serve residents of southwest Florida, including the communities of North Port, Port Charlotte, and Englewood.