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b2ap3_thumbnail_wheelchair-broken-down-neglect.jpgIf you have a loved one in nursing home, deciding which facility to use was probably not an easy decision. While you might have struggled to find a place that was affordable that worked with your loved one’s insurance coverage, you were also likely concerned about the quality of the care offered by the home. After all, you have the right to expect that your loved one will receive proper care, as well to be treated with dignity and respect.

Sadly, such is not always the case for nursing home patients. On almost a weekly basis, it seems, there is another story making headlines about patients who were abused or mistreated by staff members or other patients. While nursing home abuse is certainly horrific, the issue of neglect in nursing homes is equally troubling and much more common. Abuse, in this context, refers to active mistreatment or intentional behaviors directed toward a patient, while neglect refers to patients not receiving proper care of attention.

What to Look For

Experts say that, in most cases of nursing home neglect, many warning signs exist, and anyone who pays close enough attention should be able to see them. Many such signs involve the patients, of course, but the facility itself may also have its share of red flags, including:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysA person may come to reside in a nursing home, rehabilitation hospital, or assisted living facility for a wide variety of reasons. He or she might need care on a temporary basis while recovering from a serious injury, illness, or surgical procedure. Alternatively, the person might need to live in a nursing home for the rest of his or her life.

Many residents in nursing homes are afflicted with conditions that require care and supervision 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, patients suffering from cognitive deficiencies such as those caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often struggle to remember to eat and drink on their own. Such residents can quickly become malnourished or dehydrated if the staff does not pay proper attention. If your loved one is currently living in a nursing home, it is important to look for signs that he or she is not getting appropriate food and water.

Dehydration Warning Signs

According to most medical experts, the majority of Americans are at least partially dehydrated, despite virtually unlimited access to clean water. For the average person, however, it is relatively easy to get a glass of water when he or she is thirsty. This is not always the case for the resident of a nursing home. In many cases, nursing home patients might barely even register feelings of thirst. For those that do, getting a glass of water is difficult, if not impossible, due to physical limitations. Thus, they rely on staff members and orderlies to provide them opportunities to get a drink.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_nursing-home-woman-sad-neglect-abuse.jpgWhen a loved one requires the type of care that is only available in a nursing home or similar long-term care facilities, it is understandable for you to trust that he or she will be properly cared for. Nursing facilities, after all, employ trained medical professionals and other staff members whose primary responsibilities are to address the needs of the patients under their care. Sadly, many nursing home patients do not receive the care they need. Many others are subjected to treatment that might even qualify as neglect or abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are some things you can look for that might be potential indicators of abuse or neglect.

Many Residents, Many Concerns

There are more than 100,000 Illinois residents currently living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Illinois. The figure is expected to continue to grow, as recent estimates suggest that nearly half of Americans will require a nursing home stay at least once during their lives. Unfortunately, the high number of residents translates to a high number of patients who are likely to be abused or neglected, some of whom might suffer severe injuries or death as a result.

In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important that you visit regularly and look for any of the following signs of neglect:

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer" generation ages, more and more people need the around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Long-term care facilities can provide a safe home for elderly and disabled individuals, but sadly, not every nursing home is up to standards. Vulnerable nursing home residents can be experience neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation at the hands of caregivers.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should always be on the lookout for signs that something isn’t right. Often, the signs of elder neglect and abuse are subtle. Nursing home residents who struggle with cognition, memory, or speech may be unable to ask for help or communicate what has happened to them. Loved ones of nursing home residents should be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Withdrawn or Uncommunicative Staff May Be a Red Flag

Understandably, not everyone enjoys every second of their work day. Nursing home staff members have a job which can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally demanding. However, nursing home staff should still be personally committed to the well-being of the residents in their care. Nursing home or assisted living staff who avoid talking with residents’ family members or seem uncomfortable interacting with residents may be a red flag. Likewise, overworked, exhausted staff can be a warning sign that the facility is not staffed adequately. Staffing issues, including understaffing and undertraining, are some of the most common reasons residents suffer neglect and abuse.  

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-old-lady-nursing-home.jpgWhen you place your loved one into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, you have every right to expect that they will be treated with dignity, respect, and above all, proper care. After all, nursing homes are staffed with trained professionals who are supposed to care about the people who are residents of their facility. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Elderly abuse and nursing home negligence do occur in far too many facilities around the country, including here in Northern Illinois.

According to the Illinois State Police, more than 100,000 elderly persons are housed in long-term care facilities in Illinois. This number is only expected to grow in the coming years as Americans continue to live longer than they did in the past. Recent research conducted by a variety of academic organizations suggests that more than 12,000 of those patients will be neglected or abused each year. In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important for you to visit regularly and look for any indications that something may be wrong. Pay close attention to see if your loved one shows signs of:

  • Fear of the nursing home staff. Your loved one may also express concern about being left alone with caregivers;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition not related to terminal illness or end-stage disease;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, especially if hygiene has been important to your loved one before;
  • Dirty or torn clothing or bedding;
  • Lack of dental care;
  • Fatigue, listlessness, and other indications of depression; or
  • Symptoms of missed medication or excessive use of medication.

In addition to the above signs, any sickness or injury that cannot be easily explained should also be reported. Approximately 30 percent of all nursing facilities nationwide have been cited for instances of abuse, but many more are believed to go unreported. In addition, financial abuse is often common. Check each bill carefully to be sure your loved one is not being billed for services that have not been rendered, or that he or she is not being billed for several services that should be combined into a single billing.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe people who call nursing homes their residence are generally unable to care for themselves. Caused by either physical disability or mental, nursing home residents often have trouble expressing when they are being mistreated. Sometimes, residents do not have the memory to report times they have been neglected by staff and other times they are afraid to report abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for the following signs of mistreatment.

Major Changes in Mood or Behavior

If your loved one has become much more withdrawn or unhappy, this can be a sign that something is not right at their nursing home. While these symptoms alone are not enough to accuse the staff of abuse, patterns of sadness or irritability which coincide with certain staff members or activities could be an indication that something is not right. If a nursing home resident is hesitant or outright afraid to go to certain areas or be around certain people, more investigation is needed as to the cause of the apprehension.

Unexplained Bruises or Injuries

It can be very difficult to find signs of physical abuse on a nursing home resident. Many medications and illnesses can cause individuals to easily bruise and sometimes residents have accidents where they simply bump into something. However, if you are noticing a pattern of unexplained injuries or staff cannot account for when the injury occurred, this may be a sign your loved one is being physically abused. If your loved one experiences unexplained weight loss, this could be a warning that he or she is not getting enough to eat and drink. Sadly, short-staffed nursing homes can sometimes skip basic duties like feeding and hydrating residents.

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