Due to the natural aging process, nursing home neglect can be difficult to determine. The human body often responds to aging in unpleasant and painful ways. However, it is important to keep a look out for common signs of neglect and abuse that should not be confused with the natural aging process. One common sign of neglect is the development of decubitus ulcers, better known as bed sores. When elderly patients are left resting in one position for extended periods of time, bones and skin are subject to friction and pressure, resulting in painful skin ulcers. These sores can quickly develop and worsen if patients are not routinely moved in bed.
Nurses are required to regularly turn patients to prevent the development of bed sores, which are not only very painful, but have the potential to lead to very serious complications such as life threatening infections. Therefore, it is critical that family members immediately report the presence of these sores to the nursing home doctor or staff. The failure of the staff to timely treat the sores, allowing them to progress, can also be a form of neglect.
Other signs of neglect and/or abuse can be more evident, like bruising or scarring, or any other physical change that cannot be adequately explained. Be aware of the patients nutritional status by asking the staff for a break down of the number of meals consumed as well as the quantity of the meals. Malnutrition and dehydration can also lead to serious medical issues. Do not be afraid to ask questions of the staff. After all, the life of your loved one may be at stake.