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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse is a tragic reality. Everyone hopes that nursing home staff will treat their loved ones with the respect and compassion that they deserve. Sadly, not all nursing home staff meet this expectation. Physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident. However, residents with cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often particularly at risk for abuse. Even worse, such residents are often not capable of telling anyone about the abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may take the form of hitting, slapping, pinching, or kicking. It may also take the form of rough handling residents when transferring them in and out of beds or wheelchairs. If your loved one has bruises, cuts, or other physical injuries that staff cannot explain, this may be a sign that the staff have abused him or her. Of course, not every physical injury is a sign of abuse. Sometimes, an injury is simply the result of the resident bumping against furniture. However, if staff members seem agitated by your concerns or refuse to discuss your loved one’s injuries with you, this may be a sign that they have something to hide.

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Sadly, some nursing home staff intentionally scare, embarrass, or isolate residents. If your loved one exhibits signs of fear toward staff – especially if the fear is directed at a particular staff member- this may be a sign of abuse. Sudden changes in behavior or child-like behaviors like rocking and thumb sucking may also be signs of abuse. Suffers of Alzheimer’s and dementia often become confused and believe that someone is harming them even if they are not actually in danger. However, it is important to believe your loved one and investigate any reports of mistreatment or signs of abuse.

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse lawyersCognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are extremely common in older adults. These diseases may start out with subtle symptoms and then progress into devastatingly severe symptoms. A person with advanced dementia may not even seem like the same person anymore. For families of elders with cognitive illnesses, watching their loved ones suffer can be almost unbearable. Many families eventually decide to place their loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility so that he or she can receive the medical care and attention he or she needs. Sadly, some nursing home residents with cognitive diseases become victims of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Red Flags of Nursing home Abuse and Neglect

A nursing home resident suffering from a brain disease may be unable to articulate his or her feelings, thoughts, and needs. This is why it is crucial for families to be vigilant for signs that their loved one is being mistreated. Look for physical signs of trauma such as scratches, bruises, bed sores, burns, dislocations, and other injuries. Also be watchful for signs that a resident is being physically or chemically restrained. Federal laws as well as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act prohibit nursing home staff from unreasonably restraining a resident. Restraints that restrict a resident’s movement or medications that sedate a resident must only be used when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the use of restraints must be ordered by a physician who documents the reasons for using the restraints.

Talk to Staff About Your Concerns

If you go to visit your loved one, and he or she has a new bruise or other injury, nursing home staff should be able to tell you what happened. If your loved one is being supervised as closely as he or she should, staff should be aware of any injuries or illnesses he or she is suffering from. In some cases, residents with dementia may become afraid and confused. They may think that nursing home staff are “out to get them” or otherwise have unfounded anger or fear toward nursing home staff. Residents may tell their loved ones that they are not receiving food or medication because they simply cannot remember the last time they took their medication or ate a meal. Even though dementia sufferers can often be mistaken, you should still take their fears and concerns seriously. If staff quickly dismiss your concerns or seem hesitant to discuss your loved one’s care, this could be a warning sign that your loved one is receiving substandard care.

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Chicago nursing home neglect lawyersHuman beings are naturally curious creatures and this curiosity does not end just because a person requires care in a nursing home. One of the most serious issues in U.S. nursing homes is resident wandering and elopement. Residents sometimes wander through the nursing home facility simply because they are curious or bored. They may also wander or attempt to leave the facility because they are suffering from dementia or another cognitive illness that makes them confused.

Sadly, some nursing home residents wander into dangerous areas and are injured or killed as a result. It is up to nursing home staff to closely monitor nursing home residents and prevent wandering and elopement.

Residents Suffering From Cognitive Disease May Attempt to “Escape” the Nursing Home

If a resident is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another cognitive problem, he or she may become disorientated and afraid. This confusion may cause the resident to believe that he or she needs to leave the nursing home facility. Nursing home staff should supervise residents with cognitive problems especially carefully so that they do not end up in an unsafe situation. Tragically, residents have died after walking out of nursing home facilities and being exposed to the elements. In one fairly recent case, a 76-year-old nursing home resident passed away after she managed to leave her nursing home unnoticed. Temperatures were below freezing and the woman sadly passed away from hypothermia before she was discovered. A resident who leaves the safety of a nursing home may be at risk of hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration, slip and fall injuries, and more. This is why it is essential for nursing home staff to monitor the whereabouts of residents at all times.  

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysDegenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can completely rob a person of their ability to think clearly and remember even basic information. Family members of those suffering cognitive decline often choose to place their loved one in a nursing home to ensure they are getting the care they need. Sadly, not every nursing home meets the standards of care that loved ones of residents expect. If you have a loved one with cognitive issues in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Because many residents with cognitive impairment cannot be their own advocate, it is up to loved ones to advocate on behalf of the resident.

Signs Your Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents with dementia often cannot simply tell their loved ones that they are being mistreated. They may not be able to remember the abuse or understand what has actually happened to them. Loved ones should look for signs that the resident is not being cared for appropriately. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries like welts, bruises, burns, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and more. Marks from being restrained such as marks on wrists and ankles may also be a sign of abuse.

Signs of neglect can include but are not limited to bed sores, infections, malnutrition, and dehydration. Another sign that something is not right in a nursing home is when nurses or other caregivers are hesitant for you to spend time with the resident alone.

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