Illinois families are often faced with the difficult decision of placing a loved one in a nursing home, where they are supposed to receive the care that their families are unable to provide. However, some nursing home residents quickly learn that their new home is an unsafe environment. Elderly patients are often physically, emotionally and sexually abused in these care settings by the very individuals entrusted with their care. Whether the abuse occurs as a result of willful, harmful acts or due to negligence from overcrowded and understaffed facilities, elderly patients deserve to live in safe, caring places. Families can determine whether their loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect and act preemptively to prevent any future incidences.
Be vigilant in looking for signs
Vigilance is key in preventing instances of neglect with the elderly. Every time a family member visits their loved one in a home, they should be searching for any indication that neglect or abuse has occurred. These signs include the following:
- Bedsores and frozen joints that indicate the patient has been left alone for long periods of time.
- Broken bones, bruises, cuts or burns that could indicate direct physical abuse or injuries due to medical neglect, such as falls that occur when proper assistance is restricted.
- Unexplained changes in behavior
- Unusual behavior from nursing staff or doctors, including prohibition of or restricting visitation
- Malnutrition and dehydration
Sudden weight loss, poor hygiene and obvious signs of environmental hazards are also indicators that the facility does not care for patients like it should.
Preventing abuse from occurring
When it comes to prevention, the family is the first line of defense. Many elderly patients suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s or other conditions that limit their ability to communicate. This makes them a prime target for care workers to take out their frustrations or to leave unattended. Family members can forestall these things from occurring by ensuring that a family member is always there to hold workers accountable for their actions. The more involved a family is in an elderly patient’s care, the more likely nurses and doctors are to pay strict attention to the patient to ensure that the family has nothing to complain about.
Life circumstances may prevent many families from being present as much as they would wish, and use of a video monitoring system could help alleviate their fears. Legislation is currently being prepared by the Illinois attorney general’s office which would allow every patient the right to have surveillance to ensure that they are treated properly.
No matter what families find, they should always go to a nursing home neglect attorney for assistance. They will notify the authorities and assist the family in filing a claim against the care facility to recover damages their loved one has sustained.