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Was it a normal fall or a sign of neglect?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse

Many studies have found that abuse and neglect are widespread in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but they can be frustratingly hard to detect. This is especially true in cases involving residents who have dementia or other conditions that make it hard for them to report mistreatment to their loved ones, but detection can be difficult for other patients as well.

One survey found that the number one reason nursing home residents did not report abuse was fear. They are afraid that, if they report mistreatment, they will face retaliation from nursing home staff. After all, these are people they must see and depend upon every day for basic needs.

For other residents, the issue may be more simple. Often, older people feel embarrassed when they are injured in a simple fall — something that they could have easily avoided or quickly recovered from when they were younger. They may not want to tell their children what really happened.

This puts pressure on their loved ones. They want to know if a nursing home resident’s injury was the result of a simple accident or a sign of neglect.

Detecting neglect

Most researchers agree that the majority of nursing home staffers are decent people who do their best to care effectively for residents. However, they tend to be overworked and underpaid.

Nursing homes and similar facilities are chronically understaffed — and that problem has grown worse in recent years. The industry as a whole is also relatively loosely regulated. Combine these and other factors and you have a situation that makes it all too easy for nursing home workers to neglect residents, and makes it relatively easy for them to cover up any incidents of neglect or abuse.

Some common signs of neglect include:

  • Dehydration, weight loss or other signs of malnutrition
  • Lack of personal hygiene and other signs of self-neglect
  • Rooms that look uncared for
  • Untreated illnesses or wounds, including bedsores
  • Injuries from falling

As noted above, it’s not uncommon for older people to be injured in a fall. That’s not always a sign that they are being abused or neglected. However, it’s a bad sign if a resident experiences falls in combination with any of the other factors.

On the other hand, bedsores alone amount to strong evidence that the resident is not getting the care they need.

What to do if you suspect neglect

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in their nursing home or assisted living facility, report it to the management of the facility. If the problem persists or becomes much more serious, you may need to take legal action.