Nursing home

How to Check for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect While Social Distancing

It has been an unprecedented year in so many ways. The COVID-19 crisis has had its own impact on each and every one of us. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may not have been able to see them, let alone visit them, for many months. While some facilities have eased restrictions as of late, many have not and there is still the possibility that the facilities will lockdown once again. 

While the restrictions are in place to protect one of the most vulnerable populations in this pandemic, there are other potential risks. For instance, the possibility of nursing home abuse or neglect has never been greater. Without public accountability, facilities can get away with much more than they may have been able to before lockdowns. Here, we will discuss how you can check in on your loved one in a nursing home while maintaining social distancing protocol.

I’m Social Distancing. How Can I Check for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Nursing home abuse and neglect have been a huge issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Abusers tend to thrive when victims are isolated. Nursing home residents have been isolated like never before with the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic. There are, however, ways that you can check in on your loved one while still maintaining CDC-approved social distancing measures.

For instance, using technology can be a great way to check in on a nursing home resident. Facetime, Zoom, and other online conferencing solutions can help you see and hear your loved one without the need to be in person. During your video chats, look for signs that your loved one has not been properly cared for. Do they look disheveled or like they have not showered or groomed for some time? Have they lost a significant amount of weight? Are there any unexplained bruises or other injuries? These can all be signs of abuse or neglect.

You should also be mindful of any substantial changes in mood or personality. While the isolation itself may be enough to make someone anxious or depressed, it may also be a sign of abuse or neglect. Ask your loved ones how they have been feeling and why they have been feeling a certain way to investigate things further.

Sometimes, technology does not work out. If this is the case, consider driving by the nursing home facility. If restrictions have eased, consider arranging an in-person visit with your loved one, but be prepared to comply with strict safety measures at the facility, such as staying outdoors, always wearing a mask, and frequently washing or sanitizing hands. If the facility has yet to open up to the public, consider stopping by outside your loved one’s window for a friendly wave and to get a look at them in person.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Do you have a loved one you fear may be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect? Talk to the dedicated attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy to talk about how to proceed. Contact us today.

Elderly woman holding someone's hand in a nursing home.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Older Americans are a particularly vulnerable population. Elder abuse and neglect have gained growing national attention and concern. It is disconcerting to think that nursing home workers, those tasked with taking care of our elderly loved ones, are often underpaid, overworked, and receive inadequate training. Facilities will try to cut corners in an attempt to maximize profit and the residents are often the ones that suffer as a result. These are the kinds of conditions that can lead to abuse and neglect of nursing home residents. Unfortunately, elderly people are often unable or unwilling to report abuse or neglect. This is why it makes it extra important that everyone remains aware of the signs of potential nursing home abuse or neglect.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

With so many nursing home abuse and neglect cases going unreported, often due to a failure to recognize the problem or a failure to report the problem, it is critical that those of us with loved ones in these types of facilities be mindful of potential problem signs.

Some of the more common signs of abuse and neglect in a nursing home include:

  • Bed injuries (including asphyxiation)
  • Signs of dehydration (including cracked lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue)
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Signs of malnutrition (including rapid weight loss)
  • Pressure ulcers (more commonly known as “bed sores”)
  • Open wounds
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Wound infections
  • Unexplained physical injuries (including welts, cuts, and bruises)
  • Falls
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Emotional agitation (including being more withdrawn and non-communicative)
  • Hesitant to speak in the presence of staff member
  • Staff members’ unwillingness to leave you alone with the resident
  • Depression (including lack of interest in favorite activities)
  • Being prevented from visiting a resident
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Changes in behavior
  • Unexplained death of a resident

Additionally, if your loved one seems more confused or drowsy than usual, this can be a sign of him or her being improperly medicated. This can be an exceptionally dangerous form of abuse. Furthermore, if your loved one seems to have more limited mobility than usual or is having more difficulty getting around, it can be a sign that he or she has not been engaging in daily walking or exercise programs to support continued physical health.

In sum, be mindful of any physical, mental, or emotional changes in your elderly relative or loved one. While these changes may just come with the aging process, sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are due to abuse or neglect happening in the nursing home facility.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

Your older relatives may continue to depend on you to keep them safe and supported even when they are in a long term care facility. You can help them from being further victimized by abuse and neglect by looking for the signs mentioned here. If you suspect a loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, it can be a very delicate situation. Talk to the dedicated attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy. We can help evaluate the situation to try and keep your loved one safe and enforce his or her legal rights. Contact us today.

Elderly woman suffering from bed sores at a nursing home.

Understanding Bed Sores

We trust nursing homes with the care of our most vulnerable loved ones. Nursing home care is supposed to provide us with peace of mind knowing that proper care is being provided to those that really need it. It is devastating when you hear that the people and facilities you have trusted to care for your loved ones have failed to do so and they have suffered as a result. One of the most common telltale signs that a nursing home resident has been the victim of negligent care is when bed sores appear.

What are bed sores?

A bed sore, also referred to as a pressure sore or pressure ulcer, is a medical condition that develops in a person, usually a hospital patient or nursing home resident, when a sore develops on the skin due to the pressure of the mattress and bedclothes on their often extremely fragile skin. Those who are confined to their beds and unable to adjust or move themselves, must be frequently moved. If not, the consistent, unrelenting pressure will cause bed sores to develop. Once a bed sore develops, it is critical that it is properly treated right away to prevent further complications from arising.

When bed sores develop, they are usually in the following areas:

  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Lower back
  • Tailbone
  • Ankle
  • Heel
  • Foot

These are all areas that receive constant pressure when a patient is either seated or lying down for long periods of time.

Bed sores are usually the result of facility staff members failing to move a patient a minimum of once every two hours. If pressure-relieving mattresses are not provided, bed sores can develop fast. Additionally, the staff can work to prevent a bed sore from developing by providing cushions to relieve some of the pressure, as well as changing the residents’ clothes and bedsheets in order to reduce any moisture buildup that can act as a catalyst for the development of bed sores.

Bed sores that are not yet fully developed can be identified early on if staff members inspect a patient’s body for any signs of redness. If identified early, the worsening of the bed sore is easily preventable. If the bed sore is not immediately identified and treated, it can quickly worsen, leading to infection and other serious health complications.

Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys

A bed sore should never be something a nursing home resident suffers from if he or she is being properly cared for. Bed sores are wholly preventable. They are a telltale sign that the nursing home resident has been the victim of prolonged periods of sitting or lying down without anyone helping them shift to relieve the constant pressure. If you have a loved one who is in a nursing home and has suffered from bed sores, it is likely that he or she is a victim of nursing home negligence. Bed sores occur when someone is failing to do their job. The nursing home negligence attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are here to hold these people accountable for the damage their negligence has caused. Contact us today.

Less Common Signs of Abuse in Nursing Homes

elderly woman looking out a windowTragically, nursing home abuse is more common than many people realize. According to ABC News, abuse occurs in around 35 percent of nursing homes across the United States.

Common signs of nursing home abuse are bruises, broken bones, bed sores, dehydration and malnutrition. However, nursing home patients can show signs of abuse that might mimic other symptoms. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, it is important to know the less common warning signs of abuse.

1.Muscle movements and seizures: Involuntary spasms or seizures can be a sign of medication abuse. Either too much or too little of a medication can lead to muscle movements and seizures, because of the effect the medication has on the brain. Additionally, extreme tiredness can also be the sign of medication abuse, which can be difficult to detect in elderly patients.

2.Infection: If you hear your loved one is suffering from an infection, it might be a sign of a bed sore. Bed sores occur when pressure is put on an area of skin for a long duration of time, because the person is immobile and not being moved regularly. Infections can also occur from poor hygiene. It is important to catch infections early in elderly patients, because they can be difficult to overcome.

3.Mental difficulties: Mental difficulties in elderly patients are often assumed to be the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, dehydration and malnutrition can cause mental difficulties in people, especially elderly patients. Consult with a doctor to determine if your loved one is receiving the proper nutrition or if abuse is leading to cognitive difficulties.

It can be difficult to detect the signs of nursing home abuse. It is important to talk to your loved one about the potential for abuse and to take the time to find a facility that seems like a good fit. If you believe your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, consider filing a lawsuit to protect the person you love and others facing a similar situation. Contact CSL for a free consultation 215 561 3313 or contact us online www.cooperschallandlevy.com.  Our Attorneys have successfully negotiated major settlements for the injured , wrongful death, and medical malpractice clients.