Although many people don’t realize it, nursing home abuse and neglect affect thousands of seniors each year. If you have a loved one living at a nursing home or long-term care facility, it’s important to know the signs of abuse – and to be prepared for legal action against the organization responsible. In some cases, a civil lawsuit may be your only recourse to receive compensation for your family’s losses.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our nursing home abuse lawyers can review your case and help you pursue justice for your loved one. Well-versed in the signs of neglect, our attorneys can perform an investigation and get to the bottom of your loved one’s injuries. We’re also committed to holding the facility accountable for their actions, to ensure that no one else has to suffer neglect.
Key Warning Signs for Neglect and Abuse
The nation’s nursing homes are facing a very serious staffing shortage right now, which has been accompanied by steep price increases for residents. With the ratios of staff to residents at rock bottom, most nursing homes cannot provide even the baseline level of care that their residents deserve. In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) downgraded the rankings for over 1,638 of the nation’s 14,000 nursing homes due to staffing issues. Most of these homes had no registered nurse on-site for at least four days or more – a clear violation of CMS policy.
Given the lack of oversight at these facilities, it’s little wonder that nursing home abuse claims have continued to increase over the years. That means family members and loved ones must be vigilant for the signs of neglect and take prompt action when abuse is finally discovered.
Key warning signs that your loved one could be at risk for abuse:
- High staff turnover. When you visit your loved one at a nursing home, are you always greeted by the same friendly faces? Or do you notice new employees every time you drop by? While adding new staff can be a positive sign in some cases, rapid turnover may also indicate staffing shortages and a lack of attention to residents.
- Poor resident hygiene. Even if your family member looks relatively well-groomed, pay attention to the other residents. If you see obvious signs of neglect – like unclipped nails, dirty hair, clothing stains – it’s possible that the facility is falling short in the personal hygiene department. This could cause serious complications in the long run, particularly in the event of a medical emergency.
- Loss of mobility and energy. If your loved one always seems lethargic and their muscles have started to lose tone, it’s possible that they’re not getting enough exercise or mobility assistance from the staff. By itself, this may not sound like a significant problem – but over time, a lack of mobility can lead to painful bedsores, IV infections, and other serious injuries.
- Unsanitary living conditions. Seniors face a high risk of infection, as they often have lowered immune responses and are particularly vulnerable to pathogens. If you often see dirty dishes, unmade beds, and dirty floors at the facility, it could be a sign that the staff members are not sanitizing the rooms and equipment properly.
- Rapid weight loss. Malnutrition and dehydration are two of the biggest sources for injury at a nursing home, especially when there’s a shortage of qualified staff to monitor food intake. Rapid weight loss can be a sign of malnutrition, or it could be an indicator that your loved one is experiencing extreme psychological stress. Either way, rapid weight loss is a red flag.
- Unexplained bruises and injuries. One of the most visible signs of neglect and abuse, unexplained injuries rarely have a good explanation. Even if the injury was caused by an accident, nursing home caregivers have a responsibility to notify the family and provide proper medical care for the resident. When you see new fractures, sores, and bruises, make sure to bring them up with the staff and see how they react to the information.
- Psychological changes. Does your loved one seem uncharacteristically depressed, isolated, and anxious lately? Are they avoiding the gaze or touch of a specific staff member? When these psychological changes appear to happen overnight, it may be an indicator that a staff member is actively abusing your loved one.
Powerful and Compassionate Counsel for Your Family
If you’ve noticed one or more of the signs listed above, it’s important to stay alert and keep asking questions. When your loved one has been injured or hospitalized, you may have grounds to pursue a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit and seek compensation for your family’s losses.
We understand that this investigative process can be painful for you and your entire family, as you deal with the emotional trauma of a loved one’s abuse. Our attorneys will stand by your side throughout the process and take the lead on all matters related to your claim. It’s our goal to ease your burden, by offering high-quality legal representation and fighting for the rights of your loved one.
For more information about our legal services, call Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP at (800) 462-7160 today.