Nursing home neglect takes many forms. But the basic definition of neglect is always the same: a person or facility entrusted with the care of a vulnerable elderly person fails to provide for that person's basic needs. Friends, loved ones, and other caregivers of seniors need to be aware of signs of nursing home neglect in Alabama so they can take action if loved ones are not being properly cared for.
One of the most common signs of nursing home neglect is the development of severe bedsores. Bedsores can occur when a patient who is wheelchair-bound, bedridden, or limited in mobility, is not provided sufficient assistance to move as frequently as necessary to stay healthy. Prolonged pressure placed on the same spots on the skin can cause pressure ulcers to develop, which can subsequently become infected. The more severe the bedsores a patient has, the more likely it is that the patient is suffering from one or more types of neglect.
Bedsores are a Sign of Nursing Home Neglect
When a patient who is bedridden lays on a mattress, the weight of his body presses his skin into the mattress. This is especially true in bony areas. Likewise, when a wheelchair-bound patient sits in his chair, pressure is placed on the patient's bottom and legs.
The heels, hips, buttocks, and ankles are all areas which are likely to develop bedsores from remaining in one place too long and experiencing continuous pressure. However, bedsores can develop on many different parts of the body. Seniors tend to have drier, thinner, and more fragile skin, so are already more vulnerable to bedsores anyway. However, there are certain risk factors that make bedsores more likely. These include:
- Malnutrition. If a senior is malnourished and loses weight, there is less fat and muscle to provide cushioning between the body and the bed or the body and the wheelchair. Consuming an adequate amount of calories, proteins, minerals, and vitamins is also necessary to achieve the healthy regeneration of skin cells and to prevent tissue breakdown that can result in bedsores.
- Incontinence: When a senior is incontinent, the skin is left moist and is thus more likely to breakdown, leading to the development of bedsores. When a patient has fecal incontinence, bacteria in the feces can make the risk of infection greater for patients who have already developed bedsores.
Nursing care staff should move bedridden seniors and help wheelchair-bound seniors to move frequently to reduce pressure in one part of the body and to reduce the chances of bedsores developing. The development of bedsores is a red flag that a senior may not be getting enough caregiver attention, and is also an indicator that family needs to check to make sure a senior is being properly fed and kept clean. If bedsores become infected, neglect is also a very likely cause of the health issue because the seniors should have been seen by a medical professional for treatment before the sores became severe enough for an infection to develop.
If you see a senior with bedsores at a nursing facility that are not being actively treated, you should consider looking into whether neglect is occurring.