The elderly population is growing each year in America. More baby boomers are entering their golden years, and additionally, more seniors are living longer lives. Not all seniors can take care of themselves, leaving them vulnerable to caregivers, whether family or professional. In fact, the Administration on Aging believes the problem is much more widespread than reported. Even among residents of nursing homes, neglect is prevalent.
The AoA defines neglect as “the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.” The very people who are entrusted to care for a loved one often do not do a good job. It may not be intentional, just a byproduct of a lack of staff and time, but it might be preventable.
One of the best prevention methods for neglect is simply having a community of support. When you have a loved one in a nursing home, by being present and noticing the signs of neglect, you can prevent it. You should watch for:
- Poor personal hygiene – Examples include fingernails not being clipped, hair not being combed, unbrushed teeth and unchanged clothes. It is up to the staff to assist residents with these things.
- Unsafe or unclean conditions – For example, unclean sheets and clothing, equipment that goes unrepaired or unsafe equipment.
- Malnutrition or dehydration.
- Lack of mobility – Good nursing homes should have programs to help residents stay active and move around. If your loved one is left in a bed for long periods of time, other health problems ensue.
- Unexplained injuries – Bed sores, broken bones or bruises are often signs residents are not getting the help they need to walk somewhere. Another example is the nursing home does not call you when injuries occur.
- Unexplained or sudden emotional issues – The person grows distant or distrustful.
It is not always easy to know if the problem is neglect or aging
One of these signs may not indicate nursing home neglect, but a pattern of them might. Most nursing homes have an ombudsman, or an advocate, who can help you determine if there is neglect and address it. You may also want to talk to a local and well-experienced attorney about a personal injury case, especially when there are severe injuries. Your loved one deserves to live out his or her golden years to the best quality of life possible. Neglect is unacceptable from the people who are supposed to be taking care of your elder.