Making the decision to move your loved one into a long-term care facility is a difficult and emotional one. The fact that they could be mistreated makes it even harder. So, you do your due diligence. You research places. Talk to the staff. Ask hard questions.
You do everything possible to assure yourself that it couldn’t happen there. It couldn’t happen to your loved one. Of course, if you’ve been watching the news over the last few years, you know that’s not true. It seems no senior citizen is completely immune from the possibility of abuse or neglect.
If you really want to make sure your loved one is being well taken care of, you need to remain vigilant. That’s why this post covers some of the most common physical, emotional, and social signs that may indicate abuse or neglect in a Florida nursing home.
Physical Indicators of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
There are literally dozens of physical indicators that could provide clues to your loved one’s treatment when you’re away from his or her facility.
Here, we’ve listed those which are most often associated with cases of nursing home neglect and abuse. They could be classified into three primary categories: true physical injuries, poor physical conditions, and apparent cognitive issues.
True Physical Injuries
- Blood/bruises with no explanation
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Unreasonable restraints
Poor Physical Conditions/Ailments
- Head and stomach aches
- Infections or illnesses that go untreated or unreported
- Slurred speech
- Hazy thoughts
- Other signs of sedation
- Disheveled or unclean appearance
While a number of these physical indicators may be signs of nursing home neglect and abuse, it is important to consider they are also indicative of the normal progression of many age-related conditions and diseases.
Talk with facility nurses about what you see. Find out what can be done to prevent or improve the conditions of your loved one’s life stage.
Emotional stress and social indicators that accompany any of these signs would truly have weight in your judgment on whether there is actual foul play.
Signs of Experiencing Emotional Distress in a Nursing Home
You must always consider, a life change this big, going from some level of independence to less — or often none — can be difficult. What you really should keep an eye on is change.
You know your loved one best, so if behaviors that are out of character seem to pop up with greater frequency…or intensity…there may be a bigger issue driving them.
- Increased anxiety, fear or paranoia
- Persistent feelings of sadness or negativity or unexplained crying spells
- Aggression and defensiveness
- Altogether diminished interest in activities
Some amount of emotional distress is to be expected, but if these signs are new and prolonged, they should be addressed with a professional.
Social Indicators Your Loved One is Being Mistreated
Again, putting yourself in your loved one’s shoes, it may seem reasonable that they don’t exactly want to be sociable at this point in time. But our natural human tendency is to gravitate toward one another.
Regardless of how peripheral, most nursing home patients show some indication of a desire for socialization.
- If your relative seems completely withdrawn and unwilling to communicate or be touched, there is likely a deeper root cause. You should try and find out what it is.
- Notice how he or she reacts when facility staff enter and leave the room. Make note of fear, anger, or physical lashing out. Your loved one may be telling you indirectly what this is all about.
If you see any of these signs, there’s a chance that your loved one is being mistreated in their nursing home, and you should speak out. Even if you don’t see signs, remember that one of the most powerful things you can do is simply ask your loved one. In fact, this is probably the first step you should take. If something doesn’t seem to add up, question the facility directly.
Federal regulation clearly outlines every resident’s right to be free from verbal, mental, physical, or sexual abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.
Convinced the home is hiding something from you? Call us. Explain what you’re seeing to an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. We can help you investigate and take further action if needed.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.