Nursing home abuse and neglect: signs to watch out for

Trusting the care of an elderly loved one to a nursing home is a decision that few would like to make, since the news is replete with stories of poor care and elder abuse many receive in such facilities. However, Floridians can take comfort in the fact that the news is not all bad for nursing homes within the state.

According to Families for Better Care, a nonprofit elder advocacy organization, Florida nursing homes received an A rating overall on the organization's 2014 Nursing Home Report Card. The rating was high enough to give Florida nursing homes the sixth highest overall rating in the nation, a significant increase over a year earlier when the state was ranked at 11th highest.

Although the majority of the news was good, this does not mean that Florida nursing homes are free from examples of substandard care or elder abuse. The data that the rating was based upon also indicated that, despite the increased rating over a year ago, one in five nursing homes in Florida are on the state's watch list for dangerous nursing home conditions. Furthermore, the data indicated that the number of hours that the homes were staffed by professional nurses remained low.

Watch out for signs of abuse

Despite the high ratings, Floridians must continue to be vigilant for signs of abuse or neglect when visiting loved ones in nursing homes. According to Helpguide.org, signs of abuse or neglect include staff not allowing visitors to see their loved ones alone, tension between the patient and staff, or changes in behavior or personality.

Since elder abuse falls into many types, it is important for families to be aware of each type and the corresponding signs and symptoms:

Emotional abuse may manifest itself in symptoms mimicking dementia, such as mumbling incoherently, rocking or sucking. Additionally, if you witness any caregiver behavior that is threatening, belittling or controlling, it is a red flag that this form abuse is taking place.

Physical abuse symptoms include any unexplained injuries such as bruises, scars, broken bones, sprains, restraint marks or anything related.

Neglect by caregivers may be manifested by poor hygiene, weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores or pressure ulcers, allowing your loved one to wonder off, or unsafe or unsanitary living conditions.

Sexual abuse signs can include sexually transmitted diseases, bruising or bleeding around genitals or breasts or torn or stained underwear.

Financial abuse symptoms include missing personal property or cash, unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, changes to wills or powers of attorney, suspicious expenses or purchases of goods, etc.

If you witness or suspect that your loved one is being abused while under the care of a nursing home, the first thing you should do is call emergency services to ensure that he or she receives the medical care needed. After this has been done, you should consult with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. The experienced attorneys at Ford, Dean & Rotundo, P.A. can ensure a full investigation of the matter is conducted. Following the investigation, our attorneys can explain the legal remedies available to you and ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their unlawful behaviors.