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How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing homes in Utah do not always fulfill their legal duties or take proper care of their residents. Some nursing homes neglect residents through understaffing or lax care requirements. Others have employees who intentionally harm residents through physical, emotional, verbal or financial abuse. If your loved one is living in a nursing home in Layton, monitor the situation for signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Victims often do not come forward with reports, making it a family’s job to spot these crimes.

Check on Your Loved One Often

You may miss the signs of something wrong if you rarely visit your loved one while he or she is in a nursing home or long-term care facility. You may not notice your loved one has lost a lot of weight or deteriorated mentally, for instance, if you only check in on him or her once per year. Do your best to stay in touch with a loved one who lives in a nursing home as often as possible. This can make it easier to notice red flags for abuse and neglect.

Show Up Unannounced

Do not announce your visits to the nursing home every time. Show up unannounced, even if it is not during visiting hours, to check on the nursing home’s conditions when it is not expecting family members. This can give you a more honest and realistic view of what the nursing home is like to live in, rather than only seeing it at its best. Check for signs of problems such as dirty or dingy rooms, unkempt residents, premises hazards such as uncleaned spills, low lighting, understaffing, and staff members yelling at residents or each other.

Ask About Physical Injuries and Trips to the ER

Always ask questions if you receive a notice from the nursing home that your loved one has suffered an accident and received emergency medical care. Do not accept the nursing home’s explanation of the incident blindly. Contact your loved one’s doctor to ask his or her professional opinion of how the injury was sustained. If information from the doctor does not match the nursing home’s story, this could be a sign of resident abuse. This is especially true of serious injuries such as concussions, bone fractures or dislocations, as well as frequent trips to the ER.

Watch for Changes in Mood or Behavior

Spend time talking to your loved one in a nursing home often. This can help you recognize his or her normal behaviors, moods, emotions and mannerisms, making it easier to spot sudden or unexplained changes. Mood changes are common among victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Emotional or verbal abuse can cause depression, anxiety, withdrawal, fear, shame, guilt or suicidal thoughts. Ask your loved one how he or she is doing and truly listen to the answer. Express that you are here to listen and will believe anything he or she says about abuse or mistreatment at the nursing home.

Keep an Eye on Your Loved One’s Finances

Financial exploitation is a common form of nursing home abuse. A caregiver or staff member at the nursing home may take advantage of your loved one and his or her position of power to exploit the senior financially. You or another trusted relative should have access to your loved one’s bank accounts and financial statements. Look out for red flags of financial abuse such as large cash withdrawals, expensive gifts, unusual activity or donations, missing items, forged checks, or unexpected changes to legal documents (e.g. wills or trusts).

What to Do If You Spot Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you believe you have detected signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the authorities immediately. Call 911 and your local ombudsman program to file an official complaint against the nursing home. Take your loved one to a safe place during the investigation. Make sure he or she receives professional medical care for any injuries. Then, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Layton for a free consultation about your loved one’s legal rights. Your family member may deserve compensation for his or her losses.

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