Nursing home abuse is a tragedy that should never happen

When a family makes the difficult decision of sending a loved one to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility, the last thing they want is to discover that he or she is being neglected or abused. It's even worse if the family doesn't find out about the problem until it's too late. Sadly, nursing home abuse is occurring more and more frequently across the U.S. When a loved one should spend his or her last years in comfort, far too many are being mistreated or ignored.

Rhode Island has a reputation for being one of the states with the best nursing home care, reports WPSD.com. However, instances of abuse and neglect occur in every state, including our own. According to statistics by the National Center on Elder Abuse, 90 percent of nursing homes in the country lack the staff to provide adequate care for their residents. It is important for families to be aware of the care their loved one is receiving.

Common problems in nursing homes

Neglect and abuse in nursing homes can result in a variety of issues that make elders uncomfortable, scared and seriously ill. A former nursing home employee reported to WKRG.com that she often saw caregivers ignoring or abusing their charges. Some residents suffered from dehydration or malnutrition, while others developed severe bedsore infections.

The Mayo Clinic says bedsores are especially dangerous because they frequently lead to severe infections such as cellulitis and sepsis. Infections that go deep in bones and joints are also common, as well as certain types of cancer that develop in chronic wounds.

Keeping your loved one safe

One of the best ways to prevent elder abuse in a nursing home is to frequently check up on the resident, says HelpGuide.org. If they know they're being monitored, nursing home staff is more likely to treat their patients better. Family members visiting elders in nursing homes should pay attention for the following warning signs that may signal abuse:

  • A resident's change in personality or behavior
  • Bruising, broken bones or untreated bedsores
  • Unsanitary bedding and clothing
  • Arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elder

The damage a nursing home resident can receive as a result of neglect or abuse can reach much farther than physical abuse, says the National Center on Elder Abuse. Abused residents suffer from increased psychological distress, and have a 300 percent higher chance of dying than healthy residents.

It's inexcusable for nursing home residents to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. If you have a loved one who has suffered as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse, contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away.