By Adam C. Weiss of Lever & Ecker, PLLC.
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, in 2016, the population of Americans at the age of 65 and over had reached 49.2 million. Since then, the demographic continues to grow. As our loved ones age, the demand for quality long-term care is on the rise. Sadly, there are times when our family and friends who need the most attention don’t receive the quality care they need.
The Nursing Home Abuse Center Reported that approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens lived in nursing homes across the country in 2009, and nursing facility residents indicated an abuse rate of 44% and a neglect rate of 95%.
These facts are frightening, and are unfortunately on the incline as the baby boomer generation ages. However, there are many ways to identify possible negligence or abuse issues and combat them to help protect your family members and friends.
If you suspect that your loved one may be a victim of nursing home negligence or abuse, look for the following symptoms:
1. Bed sores and ulcers
Any resident of a nursing home with bed sores or ulcers may be a victim of nursing home negligence. If the nursing staff neglects to turn residents with mobility difficulties over in their beds with appropriate frequency, ulcers or bed sores may appear. This is a clear sign that your loved one is not getting the attention and proper carethey need.
2. Broken bones, fractures or head injuries
If residents have broken bones, fractures, or head injuries, it is important to investigate what transpired. If reasons for the injuries are vague, inconsistent or unclear, there may have been an instance of abuse or a fall due to nursing home negligence. Many nursing home falls are preventable with proper fall prevention programs in place .
3. Dehydration & malnutrition
If an individual has symptoms of dehydration or malnutrition, this may be a sign of lack of peroper care and attend by the nursing home staff. If a loved one is not getting enough nutrients from water and food, they will become dehydrated and malnourished. In severe cases, the malnutrition may cause them to develop an altered mental status, ultimately cause encephalopathy, or another serious life-threatening illnesses.
4. Behavioral changes & emotional outbursts
Emotionally abused residents may begin to have negative shifts in their emotions and behavior. If you notice that your family member is acting out of sorts, having mood swings or emotional outbursts, this may be a sign of emotional and/or physical abuse.
5. Unexplained bruises, cuts or wounds
If residents have unexplained bruises, cuts or wounds, it is important to investigate these as well and determine if there was any foul play or abuse.
When a resident stops communicating in a normal fashion, this may be another sign of emotional and/or physical abuse. Residents who have be an abused may stop speaking to loved ones, conversing with staff, or engaging with peers.
7. Rapid weight loss or gain
Residents that are victims of nursing home negligence may have instances of extreme weight loss or gain. This may be due to their caretakers not keeping the residents on a healthy and consistent diet.
8. Unsanitary and unclean conditions
Unsanitary and unclean living conditions may also be a sign of neglect. If a resident’s personal space is dirty, disheveled and/or unkempt, this could mean they are being neglected or ignored by staff.
9. Social isolation
Abuse can also lead to social isolation. If you see signs of a resident isolating themselves from others in their nursing home, this could mean they are a victim of abuse.
Nursing home negligence and abuse is a terrible thing for any individual to endure. Given the vulnerabilities in this population most victims are too afraid, sick, and/or traumatized to report the abuse, which leads to many cases going unnoticed.
If you see any signs of potential nursing home negligence and abuse, seek medical attention immediately report it to the proper authorities and explore legal counsel thereafter. Victims may be entitled to compensation and should take these issues to court when appropriate to help protect others.
Adam C. Weiss , Esq. is an associate attorney at Lever & Ecker, PLLC in White Plains, NY. He has represented clients in personal injury cases, from automobile accidents to nursing home negligence, among others. Contact him at (914) 288- 9191 or [email protected] for more information.