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5 signs of nursing home neglect or abuse

If you cannot care for an aging loved one on your own, a nursing home is the perfect alternative where your loved one can get the professional medical care he or she needs to have a better quality of life. When you choose a nursing home, you essentially place your trust in an institution that promises to give residents all the dignity, care and respect they deserve throughout their final years. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Psychological and physical damage is often the result of not receiving proper care when in a nursing home. If you are concerned that someone you love is being abused or neglected in an institution, watch for the following five signs.

1. Health issues from poor nutrition

Neglect is a form of abuse and may quickly manifest through dehydration and malnutrition. Research has shown that close to 20 percent of nursing home residents suffer from some form of malnutrition. If the nursing home is lacking staff or has a high turnover rate with employees, it may explain the lack of care. Some residents also have trouble when swallowing and depression from not getting the nutrients they need regularly.

2. Lack of personal hygiene

Nursing home aides and staff are expected to help residents with their most basic hygiene care, so when staff numbers are low, hygiene routines may be sacrificed. If elderly loved ones are not brushing their teeth, bathing, clipping their nails, combing their hair or getting dressed on a regular basis, you may want to investigate.

3. Psychological effects

Residents who are abused or neglected may deal with emotional issues as they grow more resentful and angry. Watch for signs of depression, distance between family members or a resident who completely closes him or herself off. Your loved one may also refuse to take medication, eat or perform basic hygiene tasks if she or he is dealing with psychological trauma from neglect or abuse.

4. Unexplained injuries

Head injuries, bruises and broken bones are all common in nursing homes where abuse is an issue. If residents are not getting the help they need, they may try to do things on their own, leading to dangerous falls and other injuries that could be prevented.

5. Loss of movement or mobility

Staff should help residents to exercise, move around and stay active as much as they are capable. This builds and maintains muscle strength and tone, increases balance, and improves circulation. If residents are left in bed for long periods of time, they may lose mobility.

If you fear your loved one is being abused or neglected and are not sure where to look for help, seek the guidance of an attorney immediately.

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