Putting your loved one in a nursing home is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make, but if you are like millions of other Americans, it is the only reasonable option. With work demands and limited resources, you cannot possibly hope to give your loved one the quality of care that he or she needs, the quality of care promised by the nursing home you chose. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed, often with under qualified, under trained, even dangerous employees. In recent years, nursing homes have also been acquired by investment companies that see caring for your loved one as an expense that is detrimental to profits.
Unfortunately, it is up to you to monitor your loved one’s quality of care. Only you and your family has the power to protect your loved one from the dangers of nursing home neglect that can lead to illness or even death for your loved one and other residents in the home.
There are currently 1.6 million nursing home residents in almost 17,000 nursing homes in the United States. The number of nursing home residents is expected to quadruple by 2050. Yet already, nursing homes are understaffed with overworked, and underpaid, and under trained employees. These conditions contribute to poor treatment of vulnerable seniors, many of which are reluctant to mention abuse or neglect out of a sense of indignity and shame.
Family members of nursing home residents are increasingly being counted on to monitor for signs of neglect on a regular basis. But with families tending to spread apart geographically, a close family member may not be available to do so. As a result, nursing home neglect sometimes leads to illness or even death of the resident.
Following are some indicators of potential neglect:
- Weight Loss/malnutrition
- Bed sores
- Persistent bad odor
- Insufficient staff at the facility
- Medication left over at the end of a prescription period
- Sudden change in the resident’s behavior
If you suspect that a loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, you should document your observations and take immediate steps to secure your loved one’s safety. An experienced nursing home neglect lawyer can investigate the situation and be able to inform you with regard to your rights and legal options.