As the number of Americans residing in long-term care facilities continues to rise, so does the rate of abuse and neglect. Because of this, it is crucial for you to be able to recognize signs of abuse and neglect in an elderly loved one and to be able to take action quickly.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Many nursing home residents have limited abilities to communicate, so identifying potential abuse requires careful monitoring and may necessitate frequent visits to the facility. It is the responsibility of the nursing home facility to take proper care of its residents. When they don’t, that’s when a potential legal claim should be considered.
Injuries and signs of abuse may include:
Elopement and Wandering
Elopement, otherwise known as unsupervised wandering, may occur due to a long-term care facility’s lack of supervision and/or security. Nursing home residents who are known to suffer from mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, and are partially or fully mobile, are often more prone to elopement and should be more strictly monitored.
Residents with impaired mental faculties who wander away from a long-term care center may be subjected to extreme cold or heat, may risk falling or may walk into dangerous situations such as heavy traffic or a body of water, any of which may result in severe injury or death.
Falls Resulting in Head Trauma or Death
Nursing home residents are at increased risk of falls due to age, diminished mental faculties and/or a physical disability. Nursing home personnel are regularly required to assess patients to determine their risk for falling, and provide safety devices and services to minimize the risk of injury to the resident. Some of the risk factors for falls include:
- Central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia and others
- Low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) on standing up
- Previous falls
- Problems with mobility and gait
- Use of restraints
- Visual impairment
- Bowel or bladder incontinence
Unfortunately, due to a lack of supervision or other neglect on the part of the long-term care facility, even seemingly minor falls may lead to a resident suffering from severe head trauma or death.
Pressure Sores or Ulcers
Also called bedsores or decubitus ulcers, a pressure ulcer can range from a very mild pink coloration to the skin which disappears in a few hours after the pressure is relieved, to a very deep wound extending to and sometimes through a bone into internal organs. They can be caused by unrelieved pressure caused from neglect and lack of adequate attention and care, and are more likely to occur in areas that lie just over a bone such as:
- Tailbone (coccyx)
The development of pressure ulcers may be an indication of potential problems in the care being delivered to the nursing home resident. Even in good nursing homes, small wounds may develop but with quick attention these wounds will usually heal and not deteriorate.
If you or someone you know may have suffered abuse or neglect while residing at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact attorney Kimberly Barone Baden by email or call 1.800.768.4026 to discuss your potential claim.