Deciding to put your loved one into a nursing home is often a tough decision to make. You may feel guilty that you cannot care for him or her at your home. Likely, you are also worried about how loved one will be cared for at the nursing home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest numbers, there are 1.4 million people living in nursing homes in the U.S.
With that many people in long-term care facilities, it is inevitable some of these vulnerable residents will face neglect. Even though you cannot be around all the time, you can still protect your loved one. Here are six signs that may indicate your family member’s care is being neglected
Sudden weight loss
If you notice your loved one has suffered a dramatic weight loss, there could be serious issues at play. Perhaps he or she is not being given enough to eat, or the food given does not provide enough nutritional value. Sudden weight loss could also be caused by trouble swallowing or even depression. You will want to talk to your loved one about how he or she is feeling and what he or she has been eating. Try to figure out the cause, so you know how to move forward.
Malnutrition can also cause bedsores. But more frequently, bedsores are caused when someone is not moved enough. If your loved one lacks mobility, you will want to keep an eye out for bedsores. According to the Mayo Clinic, these most often occur on parts of the body like ankles, shoulders, hips, heels, and backside. Bedsores can also become infected, so you want to catch the injury as quickly as possible.
Injuries like bruises, broken bones, or lacerations could be caused by falls. If your loved one is not receiving the assistance they need to get around, they might be falling more frequently. These types of injuries can be serious, especially in the elderly.
Unsafe conditions at the home
Your loved one could be falling because the conditions at the nursing home are not safe. Slippery floors can contribute to falls. Debris left on the floor can also increase the risk of falling. Even bad lighting can make it less safe for your loved one to move around. If you see any of these kind of conditions, you will want to alert the staff immediately because it makes the nursing home less safe for all the residents.
Lack of personal grooming
Nursing home staff are supposed to help residents with basic hygiene. Many residents need help bathing, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth or hair. If you notice your family member is wearing dirty clothes or does not seem to have bathed lately, it could be because there is a lack of nursing home staff. You will likely want to address this with nursing home management.
Changes in behavior
If you notice your normally happy loved one is suddenly withdrawn, you should be concerned. Changes in behavior could be caused by staff that is unkind, or perhaps he or she is depressed. Whether the cause is internal or external, you will want to address this issue. Maybe your family member needs a new activity to participate in or to talk to a therapist. If you are concerned he or she is being ill-treated, you will want to discuss this away from where the staff can hear your conversation.
Entrusting your loved one’s care to another person is scary. You want your family member to receive all the love and attention he or she deserves. If you notice any of the above signs, your first step should be to talk directly to your loved one. Hopefully, they can tell you what is going on. If they are unable or conditions persist, you should reach out to the nursing home staff. If this still does not remedy the situation, you can reach out nursing home management, your state’s long-term care ombudsman, or you may need to consider moving your loved one to a different facility.