Nursing home abuse and neglect occurs far more often than most people realize. In fact, it leads to thousands of deaths each year.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to detect because the elderly may not be able to speak up for themselves. Therefore, loved ones need to keep their eyes and ears open to spot abuse and say something immediately if they think that their elderly loved one is not receiving proper treatment.
3 Shockingly Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse usually involves the following types of problems.
1 . Bed injuries and sores. Hospital beds can sometimes cause strangulation or suffocation. This can involve the sheets or protective railing around the bed.
Bed sores occur when the patient has not been moved for some time or the sheets rub against a specific area repeatedly. Although most bed sores are not serious, some can actually dig into the skin far enough to reach the bone.
2. Malnutrition and dehydration. Without proper nutrition and hydration, your loved one may experience confusion, infection, and muscle weakness.It can also result in falls, weakened immune systems, pressure ulcers, and immobility. These conditions may be difficult to detect.
Look for unexplained weight loss, thinning hair, swollen lips, arms, or lower legs, and paleness. Dehydration may also cause cold, clammy, or unusually dry skin. Loss of consciousness or becoming lightheaded can also occur.
3. Falls. Most fall accidents that result in death involve those over age 65. Serious falls can also cause head injuries, fractures, and reduced mobility.
Approximately 90 percent of all hip breakage incidents are due to falls. The nursing home is required to evaluate the risk of falling for each patient and take appropriate measures to prevent falls.
It’s the Law: Protecting the Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Federal law provides that each nursing home resident has specific rights regarding their care and treatment in the nursing home.
The following is a short list of examples of the protections that federal law provides.
- Sufficient nursing staff
- Comprehensive and individualized care plan for each resident
- Provide necessary services for nutrition, grooming, and personal oral hygiene
- Proper treatment to maintain vision and hearing abilities
- Prevent deterioration of the resident’s basic life skills, including the ability to bathe, dress, groom, use the toilet, eat, and communicate
- Ensure that residents do not acquire bed sores (or other pressure sores)
- Ensure that each resident is free from medication errors
- Maintain accurate, complete, and accessible clinical records for each patient
- Promote each resident’s quality of life
State laws often supplement federal law, providing more specific rights and regulations for nursing homes and their residents.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, take action immediately. If your loved one is suffering, then others may be as well.
Talk to the staff, local nursing home regulators, and a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.