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5 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & What You Can Do About It

December 1, 2023

: Personal Injury

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Placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home is a heart-wrenching decision for many families, often accompanied by feelings of guilt and concern. However, the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ll receive professional, round-the-clock care, along with access to specialized medical services, can provide some comfort. 

Unfortunately, some facilities fall short, and nursing home abuse and neglect does happen. When it happens to one of your loved ones, it’s especially devastating. In order to make sure they’re safe and taken care of, it’s important to know what warning signs of nursing abuse to look out for. 

5 Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

While most nursing home abuse cases are obvious, some can go unnoticed without proper attention. Identifying and reporting these issues can be the difference between life and death for elderly individuals, so it’s important to spot them early. 

Below, we’ll discuss five of the major signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, as well as what you can do about it here in Columbia, SC, and throughout the state.

1. Malnutrition and Dehydration

Malnutrition and dehydration are some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse. Your loved one may be suffering from malnutrition or dehydration if you notice any of the following indicators:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Dry mouth or cracked lips
  • Swollen tongue
  • Reduced urination
  • An overall sense of weakness

Some of these indicators may result from your loved one’s normal aging conditions. However, if any occur without reasonable explanation, it’s crucial to determine the cause.

2. Unexplained Injuries

If you notice injuries on your loved one’s body that don’t have an explanation, they could be a result of nursing home abuse. In extreme cases, unexplained broken bones and dislocations could occur from rough handling during transfers, medicine administration, or repositioning. However, it’s also important to look out for minor bruises, scrapes, and scratches, as they could also be one of your first indications that something is wrong. 

3. Withdrawn or Agitated Demeanor

In cases of nursing home abuse, some individuals will become withdrawn, show a sudden lack of interest in their favorite activities, or refuse to talk due to poor mental stimulation or fear of retaliation. It’s also possible that they become agitated, fearful, or anxious from experiencing emotional abuse and being ignored when they ask for help. If you notice that your loved one’s demeanor has suddenly changed without reasonable explanation, you must determine the root cause.

4. Poor Hygiene and Unkempt Appearance

Neglect in nursing homes can manifest in a lack of attention to residents’ hygiene and appearance. If you notice that your loved one consistently appears dirty, disheveled, or has an unpleasant body odor, it could be a warning sign of neglect or inadequate care. Another more serious indication of neglect is bed sores (pressure ulcers). A sudden and noticeable decline in personal hygiene and grooming standards can indicate a problem that needs investigation.

5. Medication Mismanagement

Proper medication management is critical for residents in nursing homes. If you discover that your loved one is consistently receiving the wrong medications, incorrect dosages, or missing doses altogether, it’s a serious cause for concern. Medication errors can have severe health consequences and may indicate a lack of proper medical oversight or staff training.

How to Take Action Against Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, speak up as soon as possible. Communicating your concerns with authorities can start the healing process and help you and your loved one get justice for his or her mistreatment. There are a few different steps you can take. 

  • First and foremost, if you believe your loved one’s abuse is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, you should always call 911. 
  • If you’re unsure whether your loved one’s injuries, behavior, or condition stems from nursing home abuse and neglect, you can contact your state’s branch of Long-Term Care Ombudsman or Adult Protective Services. Representatives from these agencies can do welfare checks to see if your loved one receives the safe, kind care they deserve. 

Get Help From the Best Columbia, SC, Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

After you report the case of abuse to proper authorities, it may be in your best interest to get help from a Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer. They’ll help you better understand how your loved one’s rights have been affected by their case. 

Various federal and state laws regarding nursing home abuse ensure your loved one has the right to a safe living space, the right to participate in decisions regarding their care, and the right to file a lawsuit if they are mistreated. A Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer can help navigate these rights and help you get the justice and compensation your loved one deserves. 

If you suspect that someone you love is being abused or neglected in a nursing home or senior care facility, contact Bernstein & Bernstein right away. We won’t stand for elder abuse. We can help you resolve the situation through legal means.

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