Signs of neglect include: unexplained weight loss, dehydration, malnourishment, poor hygiene, dirty sheets, unsanitary rooms, pressure marks and bedsores. Signs of abuse may include: bruises, cuts, burns, broken bones, as well as emotional changes such as fear, anxiety or depression. Report any concerns to the nursing home immediately and follow up to make sure action is taken. Visit often and at off hours to monitor the quality of care, and to make sure good care is consistent.
Neglect and abuse often leads to injury to the resident. Examples include: failure to monitor temperature in the room, leading to hypothermia or heat stroke; failure to provide exercise, resulting in frozen joints; failure to change position, resulting in pressure sores or bedsores; failure to properly administer medication, causing condition to worsen; failure to assist a resident in getting to the bathroom, resulting in a fall; failure to put up bedrails, also resulting in a fall; and failure to monitor a resident, which can result in a number of injuries, including physical and sexual abuse.
Another way an individual may suffer at the hands of a nursing home is financial harm. Be on the look out for any suspicious transactions, unexplained asset transfers or missing possessions. If you don't understand the financial records, ask for clarification.
What you can do
There are a few things you can do, and you should get started as soon as you suspect something is wrong. First, talk to the doctors, nurses, staff and other caregivers. Ask questions and voice your concerns. Next, report your concerns to the state -- the Illinois Department of Health. They are required to investigate claims. If your family member or loved one has been injured, make sure they receive medical care and contact an attorney. You may want to file a lawsuit.
Additional resources provided by the author
Need to talk to an Illinois attorney about nursing home abuse and neglect? Give us a call. 1-800-517-1614.