When you have a loved one who is in a nursing home, it’s reasonable to worry about them all the time. Not only are you concerned about their health and wellbeing, but you might even be worried about them suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect. So, if that’s on your mind, you could be wondering if you need nursing home lawyers to review your situation.
Do You Need Nursing Home Lawyers? 10 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
1. Unexplained Injuries
This is one of the most obvious signs of abuse in nursing homes, but it is one that needs to be repeated because in the cases of abuse, the nursing home may try to give various excuses for the injuries that may sound plausible. Injuries like broken bones, joint dislocations, scratches, and bruises may all be the result of improper handling, especially if your loved one needs help transferring from the bed, sitting up, or using the facilities.
2. Poor Personal Hygiene
If you’ve noticed that your loved one has poor personal hygiene such as smelling of feces, urine, or body odor, it could be a sign that the nursing home is not bathing your loved one properly or that they are not cleaning them well enough after they’ve had an accident. Other signs like repeatedly having unwashed hair and overgrown fingernails can be indications that your loved one’s hygiene is not a priority with the staff.
3. Dehydration or Malnourishment
An indication that your loved one is not being properly supervised is if they are suffering from dehydration or malnourishment since it’s the facility’s responsibility to ensure your loved one has enough to eat and drink. These situations can arise from neglect, or, if they are intentionally withholding fluids or food, from abuse. Look for sudden weight loss, cracked lips, increased weakness, reduced urine output, and a swollen tongue as signs of these conditions.
4. Bedsores or Open Wounds
If your loved one is confined to a bed or has a chronic medical condition, bedsores and open wounds can be a sign that a nursing home is withholding medical care or they’re leaving your loved one in one position for too long. Urinary tract infections are another indication of someone not getting the proper medical care they need and are developing illnesses as a result. Be sure to inspect all parts of your loved one’s body for these issues.
5. Unexplained Falls
Your loved one’s safety could be compromised if they are trying to walk to the bathroom by themselves when they should have assistance. Falling and breaking a bone or causing another injury is a real possibility if your loved one is not properly supervised. If your loved one is falling frequently or suffering injuries from other accidents, it’s a sign that your loved one is trying to do too much themselves because they aren’t getting help.
6. Reduced Mobility
This is one of the more subtle signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, but if your loved one has become less mobile than they used to be or have more trouble getting around, it could be because the staff is not properly assisting them with their exercises. The body must be used regularly to prevent it from growing weak, and this is especially true for older people or those who have suffered from a long illness or injury.
If your loved one has become incontinent because they are not getting timely help with their toileting needs, this could be considered neglect. A rash or other skin condition from sitting in urine and feces for too long can also be an indication that your loved one has been using adult disposable underwear, but it is not being changed often enough. In either case, your loved one could be suffering from neglect, especially if they weren’t wearing disposable underwear before.
When a loved one who’s alert and engaged suddenly becomes disoriented, confused, or unusually drowsy, it could mean that they are being overmedicated or improperly monitored when they are undergoing a medication change. This can be harder to detect with loved ones who may already be suffering from dementia but should be investigated if you notice a change that can’t be attributed to a known medical condition. Check with your loved one’s physician to determine if the change is reasonable.
Sudden or gradual withdrawal from activities your loved one enjoys may be a sign that they are not being allowed to participate as punishment or that they are not being mentally stimulated enough. If your loved one refuses to talk about why they are no longer participating in their favorite activities, this is also an indication that they are afraid to tell you what’s going on for fear of retaliation from the staff members who are perpetuating the abuse.
10. Agitation, Irritability, Fear
This is another common sign of abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting. If your loved one has been abused or neglected, you will likely see them become agitated, irritable, or fearful around the staff members. They might even take some of their frustration out on you or other visitors, especially if they are unable to vocalize why they are upset. These feelings often stem from not having their needs met when they call for help.
How Lawyers Can Help
Establish a Case
The first thing a nursing home lawyer will do is help you establish a case that your loved one has been neglected or abused. If you’re unsure whether neglect or abuse has occurred, consulting with an attorney experienced in this field can clear the situation up for you. The attorney will ask you questions about the situation surrounding the possible abuse, the history of the nursing home, and your loved one’s physical and mental capabilities.
An attorney will then help you gather information about the case, including witness statements, photographic evidence, medical records, and any other documents that can support your claim. They will also know the proper steps to take to file a lawsuit, navigate local and state laws, and ensure the defendants are notified correctly and in a timely manner. You will have someone beside you for the entire duration of the proceedings, which can be a huge relief.
Negotiate a Settlement
Nursing homes are usually operated by large corporations that can afford to hire high-powered attorneys to defend them, so you don’t want to go into negotiations without also having representation. These cases do not usually go to trial, preferring instead to reach a settlement with the victims and their families. Your attorney will ensure that you and your loved one receive a fair and reasonable settlement based on the facts of the case.
Argue Your Case
In the event that your case cannot be settled and has to go to trial, your attorney will be prepared to present your case to the judge or jury. They’ll have tried cases before, so you can rest easy that they know what they’re doing in the courtroom. Highly experienced attorneys know when to take a case to trial and when to accept a settlement, which takes the pressure off you to know what to do in this highly-emotional situation.
Nursing home neglect and abuse are situations no one wants to be in, but if your loved one is exhibiting signs of being abused or neglected, it’s time to get an attorney involved. Contact The Nail Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to begin the process of getting help for your loved one.