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How to identify nursing home neglect

Many New Mexico residents have had to make the difficult decision to place an aging parent in a nursing home. Finding just the right one may have required a good deal of time and effort. But with horror stories of nursing home abuse and neglect making headlines across the country, there is still the nagging worry that Mom or Dad may not be receiving the care to which they are entitled.

Nursing home neglect can take many forms. Here are a few of the warning signs that family members should watch out for on their visits.

Personal care red flags

Any unexplained injury like bruises, head injuries or broken bones can indicate nursing home neglect. Nextavenue.com reports that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die from injuries relating to falls. Many non-fatal falls result in permanent disability. While not all falls can be blamed on neglect, falls tend to happen when nursing home residents decide to do things by themselves, such as walking to the bathroom, because they do not receive the help they need.

If a nursing home resident exhibits poor personal hygiene such as sloppy or inadequate clothing, disheveled hair, overgrown fingernails or toenails, body or mouth odor, etc., this is another indication of neglect. So are complaints of receiving insufficient food or water. Such complaints should not be discounted as mere crankiness, especially if they continue over time.

Facility red flags

U.S. News adds other warning signs that family members might not have thought of as possible neglect issues, including the following:

  • Staff who appear to be overworked and/or frantic
  • Frequent staff turnover
  • Statements by a resident that he or she does not want a particular person or persons to care for him or her
  • Phones that ring too long and call lights that stay on too long
  • Consistently deflected or unanswered questions

The sad truth is that family members should be ever vigilant for signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. Aging parents deserve to live in a safe, secure and clean environment where their needs are attended to in a kind and compassionate manner.

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