Understanding the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse

Putting a loved one into a nursing home may be a difficult and heartbreaking decision for Mississippi residents. They have a right to expect that their elderly relative is treated with nothing but respect and kindness during their final years. Sadly, many residents of nursing homes are mistreated, ignored and victimized. Nursing home negligence or abuse may make a resident's life miserable, or may even result in serious injuries or untimely death.

How prevalent is nursing home abuse in the U.S.?

Nursing home abuse is, unfortunately, not an isolated problem. Hundreds of thousands of people fall victim to elder abuse across the country every year. Up to 10 percent of elderly people in the country have been abused at some point during the past year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Can neglect or abuse seriously harm or kill my loved one?

If a nursing home resident is mistreated or not properly cared for, tragedy could result. Falling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the top cause of serious injury and accidental death for nursing home residents. About 20 percent of all falls involving senior citizens occur in nursing homes.

Residents may also develop bedsores or malnutrition from being neglected, which could result in infections and other life-threatening health issues. Additional risks could include a medication mistake, violence from other residents or a lack of security resulting in a loved one with dementia wandering out of the building.

What should I watch for when I visit?

It can help to be aware of the warning signs before visiting a loved one in a nursing home. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, these may include the following:

• A resident seeming depressed or acting withdrawn, afraid or anxious

• Apparent tension or animosity between the resident and someone else in the nursing home

• Bruises, scratches, lacerations or fractures that cannot be easily explained

• Unusual weight loss, poor hygiene, dirty living quarters and other signs of neglect

• Bruises or discoloration in the private areas, which may signal sexual abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, you may understandably feel angry and at a loss. The staff at your nursing home may also attempt to explain away the incident or make excuses as to why it isn't that serious. To protect your loved one's dignity and rights, as well as to obtain compensation, you may wish to contact a Southaven personal injury attorney with experience in nursing home abuse and neglect.