Nursing home neglect is a problem year round. Unfortunately, neglect may actually become worse over the holidays when experienced nursing home staff members go on holiday vacations, leaving the residents in the care of inexperienced temp agencies or resulting in the care facility becoming shorthanded.
Many people will visit nursing homes over the holidays in order to see grandparents or other relatives who are living there. When visiting, it is important for every visitor to keep his eyes and ears open.
You could spot signs of potential neglect in your own family member or in other residents of the nursing home who may not have visitors and who may not have anyone to speak up for them. If you notice potential issues with staff neglecting the fundamental needs of residents, you should report the neglectful behavior to Alabama Adult Protective Services. If it is your relative being harmed, you should also contact a lawyer for advice.
When you visit relatives in a nursing home, you should watch for red flags which could suggest something amiss. Signs neglect is happening can include:
- Bedsores or pressure sores: These sores can develop when a senior nursing home patient who is immobile is not rotated frequently enough in his bed or in his wheelchair. The sores can become infected and could potentially be fatal if the bedsores progress and are not addressed immediately. Bed sores are one of the surest signs a senior is suffering from neglect, especially if the sores have progressed beyond superficial sores.
- Unexplained bruises or cuts: These can come from actual elder abuse, or can result from neglect if seniors are not supervised or assisted in moving and they suffer a fall as a result.
- Unexplained weight loss: Some seniors require help eating and drinking in order to consume enough calories and liquids to stave off malnutrition or dehydration. If they are not getting the help they need, they may get very sick due to failure to eat or drink.
- Failure to keep up with the patient's personal hygiene needs: Nursing home patients should have clean clothing and clothing without rips or tears. They should have their hair washed, their nails trimmed, and should not have odor suggesting a lack of washing.
- An unclean environment in the nursing home setting: Resident rooms, common areas, and cafeteria or dining facilities should be maintained in clean and safe condition, free of dirt and debris.
These are just a few of many possible signs that staff members are falling short of providing a basic minimum level of care. Do not hesitate to speak up if you think you see something wrong- it is better to make a report so authorities can look into the situation than to leave vulnerable seniors at risk of harm with no one to speak up for them!