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What’s the difference between nursing home abuse and neglect?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse

Deciding to move your loved one into a nursing home is a big decision. You want to find the right care for them, but with stories of nursing home abuse and neglect frequently circulating in the news, you might worry about your loved one’s health and safety.

While you might be able to minimize the risk of nursing home abuse or neglect by reading up on your placement options and talking to current residents, you’ll have to be diligent in your observations once your loved one if you want to catch any signs that they’ve been mistreated.

This week on the blog, we want to briefly look at the differences between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect so that you know what to look for and when to take action.

What you need to know about nursing home abuse

Nursing home abuse occurs when an intentional act is committed resulting in serious harm. This abuse can take many forms, including each of the following:

  • Improper physical restraint that results in injury
  • Improper chemical restraint
  • Punching or kicking a nursing home resident
  • Pushing or shoving a resident in a way that causes them to slam into objects or fall

Signs of nursing home abuse can vary, too. If you’re worried about your loved one being subjected to abuse, then be on the lookout for the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Severe lacerations without justification
  • Unexpected welts
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Unexplained visits to the hospital
  • Restraint injuries on the wrists and ankles
  • Eyeglasses and other personal items that are broken
  • An nursing home staff member’s unwillingness to leave you alone with your loved one

If you see any of these signs, then you should follow up immediately to try to figure out what’s going on. Once you have more information, you should act accordingly, which may include taking legal action and moving your loved one out of their nursing home.

What you need to know about nursing home neglect

Nursing home neglect can be intentional or unintentional. This neglect occurs when key caretaking duties go unfulfilled, resulting in harm to a nursing home patient. Neglect is more common than nursing home abuse, but both can leave your loved one in a dire predicament. Examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Not providing a resident with proper nutrition
  • Not moving an immobile patient frequently enough
  • Failing to regularly change a resident’s clothes and bedding
  • Not bathing the patient on a regular basis
  • Leaving injuries untreated
  • Neglecting to provide a patient with their required medication

Like with nursing home abuse, there are a lot of signs of nursing home neglect. These include the following:

  • A decrease in mobility
  • Poor hygiene
  • The sudden onset of emotional and psychological issues
  • Drastic loss of weight
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Hair loss
  • The development of papery skin
  • Bedsores
  • Social and emotional distancing

What should you do if you think your loved one has been abused or neglected?

In these circumstances, legal action may be warranted. But before moving forward with one of these claims, you need to have evidence to support your and your loved one’s arguments. Therefore, you’ll want to ask a lot of questions, talk to potential witnesses, and secure hospital and nursing home records. After do so, you’ll likely have a better idea of how to proceed with your case.