Symptoms of Nursing Home Neglect: How to Receive Justice for a Loved One in Chicago, Illinois
We all want the best for our loved ones, and as they grow older, that means advocating for them and ensuring that they’re safe. It’s never an easy decision to place an elderly parent or relative in a nursing home, even though it may be the best option for them: many senior citizens want to keep their autonomy for as long as possible, and they may not want to leave their home in order to live communally with other elderly individuals. It’s our role to help them make the best decisions for their own individual needs, whether that’s home health care or assisted living.
But our advocacy doesn’t stop when they first walk through the doors of a nursing home: we need to be alert for any symptoms of neglect or abuse from those meant to care for them. Today, we’ll discuss some of the signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, then explain how you can get justice for a loved one who has been harmed by those meant to care for them.
First, look at the facility itself
This can often be the very first sign of abuse or neglect: a dirty and poorly kept nursing home. A facility may look great on paper, but the actual conditions may be far worse than they seem. That’s why it’s important that you take your time choosing a facility in conjunction with your loved one, and that you investigate the facility very closely once they arrive.
Some signs of a poorly maintained nursing home include strong smells of urine or feces, cluttered passageways, dirty bathrooms, soiled bedding or clothing, and slippery or unclean floors. These all present serious dangers to elderly individuals, who are more prone to falls and infections.
Even if the facility passes muster the first time you visit, you need to remain closely aware of what’s happening in the nursing home. Often, a facility might start to go downhill during economic downturns or under new management, when staff shortages make it difficult to provide every patient with individualized attention.
Assess your loved one’s condition each time you visit
Even if you’re not a medical professional yourself, there are some simple signs you can watch for to recognize that there may be something amiss with your loved one.
Firstly, massive weight changes can indicate that the patient is being over- or undermedicated, or that they’re not being fed properly. As the metabolism slows down when we age, weight gain can indicate that your loved one isn’t being encouraged to move enough, or they’re not giving age appropriate recreational activities.
New or worsening depression can indicate social isolation or poor treatment at the hands of their caretakers, as can a lack of care in their physical appearance and clothing choices. However, one of the most obvious signs will be a deteriorating mental state that cannot be explained by disease progression, as well as bruises and injuries that aren’t healing or that frequently reappear in the same places. Lastly, be sure that you encourage your loved one to move, and, even though it might be uncomfortable, check that they don’t have any bed sores, which can indicate that they’re not being moved or helped out of bed on a regular schedule. All of these can contribute to neglect, and they must be taken seriously.
If your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, help is available
If you suspect nursing home abuse, there are two things you must do right away: consult with a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney, and also remove your loved one from that facility. Keep all the medical records you can find, as these will help strengthen your case, and they will also help the caretakers at a newer, safer facility to take care of your relative or companion.
A personal injury attorney can assess all the facts of the case and gather the evidence necessary to open a civil lawsuit against the nursing home facility. Whether it’s a settlement or a decision by a jury, the personal injury lawyer will help you receive financial compensation that can help pay for your loved one’s care as they recover from their injuries and begin to heal in a new, safe place.
It’s terrifying to realize that someone you hold dear has been treated badly by those meant to care for them, and it can bring up a lot of emotions. As you work with a personal injury attorney to receive justice for your elderly relative, be sure to care for your mental health as well. This can be traumatic for everyone involved, so don’t ever hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for yourself as well.
By keeping a close eye on your loved one’s condition and consulting with an attorney if you ever suspect abuse, you can keep those you care about safe in their twilight years, ensuring that they live with dignity and safety all throughout their life.