Nursing Homes Can Be Dangerous

Vulnerable nursing home residents can be injured due to negligence and abuse by their caregivers.

More than 100,000 Illinois residents live in nursing homes. These residents must trust their caregivers with every aspect of life, from eating to sleeping, waking to walking. Many of these homes are understaffed, and the employees overstretched. Mistakes, negligence, and even outright abuse sometimes occurs. While not all nursing homes are bad, approximately 30% of nursing homes are cited for cases of abuse. The actual occurrence of abuse and neglect may be significantly higher.

A fragile population

Nationwide, one to two million people age 65 or older have been abused or exploited by caregivers in the past year alone. Often these innocent victims have no one to turn to for help, as they have limited contact with people outside of their caregivers. Family members and visitors can help protect residents by watching for signs of abuse or neglect.

Signs of abuse

Some signs of abuse will be more obvious than others. Black eyes, bruises, sprains, and unexplained injuries are all signs of abuse. It can be tricky to differentiate abuse from neglect or even just natural injuries. The elderly can be injury prone due to a decrease in balance and weaker bones. However, frequent injuries, particularly those that the nursing home is hesitant to explain, are a clear sign of abuse that should not be ignored.

There are also behavioral signs of abuse. If a patient shows nervousness or anxiety about being around a particular caregiver, this could indicate an abusive situation.

Signs of neglect

It can be difficult for nursing homes to care for as many residents as they have, however, there is no excuse for neglecting a patient's needs. Bedsores are an obvious sign of neglect, indicating that the patient is not moved enough to avoid them. Malnutrition and dehydration also indicate neglect.

Patients who are frequently in torn or dirty clothing, have unpleasant odors, and are clearly not clean are also neglected. Family members and loved ones should plan on stopping by unannounced to see how their loved one is cared for. Even if he or she is always well dressed and presentable for scheduled visits, an unscheduled visit may be a different story.

If you suspect a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced attorney right away. By protecting your loved one, you also help to protect the other residents from similar abuse or neglect. An experienced attorney can also assist you in making sure that the authorities are aware of the situation, and the abuse is properly reported.