What are common signs of nursing home abuse?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Although signs will certainly depend on the specific individual, there are some common indicators to be aware of such as sudden weight loss, bruising, bedsores, frequent or constant restraint, staff indifference, injury requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization, broken bones, frequent illness, or heavy medication or sedation. In general, rapid changes in physical appearance and mental condition of nursing home residents can be signs of mistreatment. 

What You Can Do to Help Recognize Signs

Not all of the factors above are direct indicators of nursing home abuse or neglect, but the presence of any one of them should sound a personal alarm. Be vigilant. Carefully observe the individual’s condition, take pictures where possible, and take notes with detailed information concerning dates, times, conditions, and staff members. Do not count on the nursing home to police its own actions or regulate the behavior of its employees. Nursing home abuse is not self-correcting, it is self-perpetuating.

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If You Do See Signs, Take Action

However, if you see any of the above signs of nursing home abuse or nursing home negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area. Together, you and your lawyer can be advocates for the individual in need. A consultation with an experienced attorney can be low cost or even for free. Be sure to ask if your lawyer’s services can be payed for on a sliding scale.

Act on your instincts and look into the care of any loved ones in a nursing home, immediately. They may feel helpless or unable to communicate their situation to you. Further, although there are many laws against nursing home abuse and negligence, they can be difficult to enforce. This means that action on the part of concerned friends and family will be the best hope for ensuring dignity and quality in their health care.

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