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How to Spot Trouble in a Nursing Home

Written by NHAbuseGuide on June 24, 2015

If you read about nursing home care you may be very hesitant to rely on it. An article in Business Insider notes that, “One in three people admitted to a nursing home will die within a year, yet fewer than 15% receive hospice care.” Going on to describe the quality of care that many elders receive as “dismal”, it explains that depression, neglect and abuse are some of the worst concerns.

Clearly, this can be terrifying to anyone facing the prospect of long-term care in a nursing home, but there are ways to spot trouble before it causes any real problems. Dan Sewell, a director at the UC San Diego Medical Center says that there are “dozens of warning signs” that we can look for in order to see if our loved one may be at risk in a specific nursing home.

The Warning Signs

If there is a “classic” sign that something is wrong, it is going to be that your loved one has obvious emotional and/or physical changes. These can range from something more pronounced than the expected sadness or mild depression over the change in living situation, such as bursts of anger or uncontrollable sobs. Or it can manifest as actual physical changes that can include bruises, scrapes, and more.

Most experts say to use caution when gauging these “signs” because they are not always evidence of trouble. For instance, emotional abuse may not be the case, and it could be that your loved one is agitated and withdrawn simply because they are unhappy with being relocated. A nasty bruise is possible by hitting the hand on the sink, bumping into a wall, and so on.

Don’t rush to judgment, but don’t ignore the signs either.

If the emotional or physical changes don’t subside, it is time to speak with the staff, and this too is a moment to look for trouble. The experts indicate that any staff member that is evasive in their answers, or deflects questions altogether is the proverbial “red flag”. It is entirely acceptable to hear an, “I am not sure, but let me find out.” It is totally unacceptable to get an indifferent, “I don’t know,” or shrug of the shoulders.

If you have a difficult time just getting hold of a member of the staff because they are so busy and “frazzled”, it is also a sign of trouble. Spreading staff too thin may be an underlying cause of poor or inadequate care, and if you note that it is always chaotic or that staff does not seem to interact with the residents, think of it as a problem.

Finally, neglect is obvious with issues like poor hygiene, dehydration, weight loss, and so on. If you notice that your loved one is wearing unkempt garments, seems thinner or is suffering with health issues brought on by poor nutrition, it is obvious that there is something very wrong.

Don’t wait to make a move if it is clear that neglect has become an issue. Thin staffing is a constant challenge for nursing homes, but that should not lead to inadequate care of residents. If you see that your loved one has become the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, get in touch with an attorney. They can hear your thoughts, look at the facts, and help you make the best decisions.

No one should spend their golden years in a dismal situation, and it is up to you to help your loved one if their nursing home has become a place where their needs just cannot be properly met.


BusinessInsider.com. Problems with Nursing… http://www.businessinsider.com/problems-with-nursing-homes-2014-10

USNews.com. 9 Warning Signs… http://health.usnews.com/health-news/best-nursing-homes/articles/2013/02/26/9-warning-signs-of-bad-care?page=2


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