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Nursing Home Neglect: Signs and Symptoms

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Nursing Home Neglect: Signs and Symptoms

Nursing Home NeglectNeglect is the most common type of nursing home abuse reported in the United States. Neglect is defined as the failure of a caregiver to meet all of a dependent’s needs. In a nursing home, residents have many needs to be met, such as the need for clean water, nutritious food, social stimulation, medical care, and a clean, safe environment. When we move our loved ones into nursing homes, we do so with the intention of giving them the specialized care they need. Although many nursing homes provide high-quality care for their residents, it is possible for a resident’s needs to be neglected because of a staff shortage or because staff members are not trained to adequately care for individuals with specific needs, such as dementia or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Physical and Psychological Harm

When nursing home neglect occurs, an individual can suffer physical and psychological harm. An individual in stable health could suffer a significantly worsened health condition, which can impact his or her quality of life and even shorten it. If you have a loved one currently living in a nursing home, it is important that you know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect. Visit your loved one often and make it a point to talk about the care he or she receives frequently with the facility’s staff and with your loved one directly. Nursing home neglect and abuse are forms of medical malpractice. If your loved one suffers damages as a result of neglect in his or her nursing home, he or she may be entitled to receive monetary compensation for these damages by way of a nursing home abuse claim.

Nursing Home Neglect Statistics

In California, approximately 110,000 residents live in nursing homes. An additional 150,000 reside in licensed residential care facilities for the elderly throughout the state and in addition to them, another 150,000 live in unlicensed assisted living facilities. This final group is at the greatest risk of suffering from neglect and abuse because of the lack of government oversight in their facilities, but individuals in all three groups can potentially suffer.

A few statistics to note about nursing home abuse and neglect include:

  • In 2009, 13 percent of the complaints to the California Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman was for gross neglect, exploitation, and abuse;
  • According to CNN, 90 percent of American nursing homes are understaffed; and
  • A study of American nursing homes conducted from 1999 to 2001 found that 30 percent of the nation’s facilities were cited in more than 9,000 complaints, most of which were for preventable issues like bedsores and dehydration in residents.
Recognizing Nursing Home Neglect

Learn to recognize the symptoms of nursing home neglect so you can speak up if you feel your loved one is in danger. A few signs that can point to neglect include:

  • A worsened health condition;
  • Sudden weight loss;
  • A change in personality, such as becoming anxious, withdrawn, or delusional;
  • Physical injuries such as pressure sores;
  • Dehydration; and
  • A general smell or look of being dirty, such as unwashed hair, body odor, or living conditions which are dirty or cluttered.

Discuss your concerns with your loved one and his or her caregivers. Sometimes, these signs can be attributed to other issues, such as a change in medication.

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

A few examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failing to provide a resident with the medication or other medical treatment he or she needs;
  • Failing to provide residents with enough nutritionally-balanced food;
  • Failing to provide residents with a sufficient amount of clean water;
  • Failing to bathe residents, change their diapers, or provide other types of personal hygiene care on a consistent, healthy basis;
  • Failing to clean residents’ rooms and common areas in the nursing home; and
  • Failing to communicate with residents or stimulate them socially. This can include leaving a resident in his or her room for hours or even days at a time or failing to make an effort to acknowledge him or her as a human being.
You Need to Be an Advocate

Document your interactions with your loved one and his or her caregivers regarding your concerns of neglect. This documentation will serve as evidence to support your nursing home neglect claim if you choose to file one. If you cannot resolve the issue with the nursing home’s staff, speak with our experienced nursing home abuse lawyer about filing a complaint with the California Department of Public Health. The department’s Licensing and Certification (L&C) program oversees the licensing of nursing home administrators, home health aides, and nurse assistants as well as ensuring that all nursing homes and other health care facilities in California comply with federal and state laws.

If the department finds that nursing home neglect has occurred, your loved one may be able to recover compensation for his or her damages, such as the need for corrective medical care or psychological counseling to work through the emotional trauma of being neglected by his or her caregivers.

The video below shows some shocking cases of elderly abuse and deaths in nursing homes.

Experienced California Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

Be cognizant of the signs and symptoms that can point to nursing home neglect. Remember, you are your loved one’s best advocate. If you suspect he or she is suffering from any type of nursing home abuse, it is your job to take a stand and seek the legal aid necessary to pursue a nursing home abuse claim. Contact my office, The Edward A Smith Law Offices, to set up our initial legal consultation. As an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer, I can answer your questions and advise you about the best way to move forward with your nursing home abuse claim. Do not wait to make the call – be an advocate for your loved one and start working to seek justice for him or her today.

Sacramento Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence and/or abuse in a nursing home setting, please give me a call at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly advice.

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Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 2.29.20]