What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Oftentimes we hear about nursing home residents who endure terrible abuse at the hands of their caregivers. While abuse is a significant, widespread problem in nursing homes throughout Florida, it is important not to overlook another serious problem that can put elderly residents at risk of serious harm: nursing home neglect.
Unlike nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect is generally not the result of active malice on the part of a caregiver. It is, however, commonly a result of negligence on the part of one or more staff members, if not the facility itself.
A Florida nursing home neglect attorney can investigate the cause of your loved one’s injuries to determine if negligence was a factor. You and your family may be entitled to compensation for damages caused by neglectful staff at a nursing home or other care facility.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect can take a variety of forms, from ignoring residents’ medical needs to overlooking the safety and security of the premises. Both before and after moving your loved one to a nursing home, vigilance is crucial for identifying potential neglect.
Staying in contact with your loved one and visiting frequently are both key for ensuring their safety. Both during visits to the nursing home and in communications with staff at the facility, watch for the following signs of neglect:
Persistent hunger and unexplained weight loss may both be signs that your loved one is not being fed properly. The effects of malnutrition may also include:
- Yellowing of the skin
- Susceptibility to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues
- Worsening overall health
Neglectful nursing home staff may fail to take into account your loved one’s dietary needs, fail to assist with feeding, and more.
Nursing homes also have a responsibility to help residents who are unable to drink on their own or communicate when they are thirsty. Without the assistance of caregivers, these residents may become dehydrated.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Cracked lips
- Crepey skin
If your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, or they report not receiving help with hydration, neglect may be a factor.
3. Poor Hygiene
Hygiene issues are another possible sign that nursing home residents are being neglected. Caregivers are supposed to assist residents with activities such as:
- Using the toilet
- Laundering clothes
- Cleaning residents’ rooms
When caregivers neglect these duties, residents may look and even smell unclean. They may be forced to wear soiled clothes and live in unsanitary conditions. These issues may increase the risk of serious illness and infection.
4. Bed Sores
The formation of bed sores is often a sign of serious, persistent neglect. Also known as decubitus ulcers, bed sores develop when the skin is subjected to uninterrupted pressure. Bedridden patients are at the highest risk for bed sores because they are unable to turn themselves or adjust their position in bed. Some nursing home residents are dependent on caregivers to perform this function for them.
However, negligence on the part of nursing home staff may result in an elderly resident being left in the same position for too long. Unrelieved pressure causes ulcers to form on the skin, eventually resulting in an open wound that affects underlying tissues.
Bed sores can be extremely painful and take a long time to heal. Without proper medical care, they may also become infected.
5. Medication Errors
Nursing homes are responsible for administering medications to residents. When they are neglectful in this duty, residents may suffer a number of adverse effects.
Common examples of medication errors in nursing homes include:
- Administering the wrong medication
- Administering the wrong dose of a medication
- Failure to provide residents with food for medications that shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach
- Failure to provide residents with sufficient fluids to take medications
- Failure to ensure residents take their medications
If your loved one takes medication for one or more conditions and their health declines without explanation, medication errors stemming from nursing home neglect may be a factor.
6. Unexplained Injuries
Without proper supervision or assistance, nursing home residents may suffer a wide variety of injuries. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, and more may all occur because caregivers are negligent in monitoring and helping residents with mobility and everyday tasks.
Injuries may also be a sign of nursing home abuse. If your loved one has suffered injury in a nursing home and you suspect neglect or abuse, it may be time to contact a Florida nursing home attorney.
Aging is a psychologically complex issue. Seniors may feel angry or depressed about the changes they experience as they get older, especially after moving into a nursing home.
However, issues such as anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal may arise in response to neglect or abuse in the nursing home. If you notice a significant change in your loved one’s personality and emotional state, it is important to determine the cause and take action.
8. Wandering and Elopement
Nursing homes are responsible for monitoring residents and ensuring their safety on the property. When caregivers and staff neglect this duty, residents may leave the facility. Seniors with cognitive impairments (i.e., dementia) are particularly at risk for becoming confused and wandering unattended.
When residents are found wandering the facility or leave the grounds altogether (elopement), this generally signifies neglect on the part of the nursing home. Wandering and elopement can put seniors at risk of serious injury and exposure to the elements.
Contact a Florida Nursing Home Neglect Attorney Today
Nursing home abuse and neglect cases can be complicated. At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, our attorneys fully investigate the facility and the staff to determine how negligence resulted in your loved one’s injuries. We build a strong claim on your behalf to pursue the full compensation you and your family deserve.
For a free consultation, please call (407) 712-7300 today. Our nursing home neglect attorneys serve clients throughout Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas.