When we choose a nursing home for our family members, we do so with the utmost trust that the organization will care for our loved ones as we do. Sadly, many nursing homes take advantage of their elder population through neglect, improper care, callous treatment and sometimes even direct physical or mental abuse. 44 percent of nursing home residents alleged abuse and 95 percent state that they or a fellow resident had been neglected.

Such acts are a severe breach of trust and an unthinkable way to treat the ones we love. Make sure that your parents or elder family members in Nashville are not silent victims of abuse by paying attention to the warning signs.

Federal Law and Nursing Home Torts

Under federal law, nursing home residents have a legal right “to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.”

These laws distinguish abuse from neglect. Neglect is a failure to provide the level of care needed to prevent pain or harm, or it is a failure to react appropriately to a situation that results in harm or emotional suffering to the resident. Abuse, on the other hand, refers to psychological intimidation, unreasonable confinement, deprivation of rightful services and care, intentional infliction of injury, or a punishment that causes significant pain, harm or mental suffering.

Abuse can take many forms, including physical assault, deprivation of essentials like food or water, excessive restraint, restriction of resident rights without a reasonable cause, use of psychotropic medications to subdue patients and more.

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

Unfortunately, not every nursing home resident has the capacity to clearly report and describe incidents of abuse and neglect. Family members must heed the following warning signs to assemble a case of facts needed to allege nursing home abuse:

Incidents Resulting in Trauma or Injury

Nursing home residents can experience falls or injuries on their own, but reasonable suspicion can be invoked in any instance where the resident was injured by unusual means. Family members should be especially wary if injuries occur immediately after a wandering episode. Warning signs include cuts, bruises, broken bones, welts, infections and sores.

Bed Sores (Pressure Ulcers)

Bed sores are a strong sign of neglect and a likely sign of unreasonable confinement.

Emotional Issues

Our elders cannot always communicate coherently, but their emotions can read loud and clear in certain instances. Look for avoidance behavior, voluntary isolation, wandering instances, extreme agitation, withdrawnness and uncommunicative behavior. Rocking, aversion to being touched, heavy breathing and unusually aggressive behavior are other potential warning signs.

Lack of Sanitation

Excrement smells, infection, neglected hygiene and other issues can indicate abuse or neglect.

Food or Water Deprivation

Your family member should not suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, sudden weight loss, sudden weight gain or other issues, especially without a relevant diagnosis from your primary care physician.

Signs of Excessive Medication

Many cases of nursing home abuse take the form of “drugging” the residents without medical justification. This practice makes them “easier to manage” in the minds of abusive nursing home workers, but it can potentially cause great medical and psychological harm. Always check to see that the medications being provided are directly prescribed by your physician.

You Owe It to Your Family to Look into Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The most tragic issue of all is that many cases of nursing home abuse are waved away by caregivers as the resident having episodes of dementia or deteriorating health. While this could possibly be the case, it is also a convenient excuse for improper and illegal behavior. Act on any suspicions you have, particularly ones involving behavioral changes, poor hygiene, bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, unexplained wounds or confinement.

If you suspect nursing home abuse or feel that you have concrete evidence of it occurring, protect the ones you love while seeking the compensation you deserve by enlisting the services of an experienced Nashville personal injury lawyer. End the cycle of abuse and give your loved ones the care and sympathetic attention they truly deserve.