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What constitutes abandonment in a nursing home?

Neglect is, sadly, one of the most common ways that elderly adults experience abuse in nursing homes. While neglect can be both intentional and unintentional, it is unacceptable either way.

The Nursing Home Abuse Center categorizes elder neglect in three ways: abandonment, nursing home neglect and self-neglect. Any type of neglect can be extremely harmful to the health of the elderly, in physical, psychological and emotional respects.

Abandonment is sometimes used as a broad term, not only applying to nursing homes. It is defined by the Nursing Home Abuse Center as “when someone who is responsible for an elder’s care deserts them, often leaving them in a public place, a nursing facility or a hospital.”

Specifically in a nursing home, abandonment can look many ways. Here are some actions that may constitute abandonment by nursing home staff:

  • Leaving a patient in a public area or facility for an extended period
  • Failure to check on patients regularly
  • Ignoring patient calls or leaving calls unattended for extended periods
  • Not supplying proper nutrition
  • Not aiding patients in necessary tasks, such as eating, moving, using the restroom or bathing
  • Not helping patients in daily activities
  • Failure to properly respond to an accident or a fall, leaving patients lying on the floor for an extended period
  • Not giving medications properly
  • Not turning patients who are bed-ridden, sometimes resulting in bed sores
  • Failure to attend to basic hygiene, including changing soiled clothing or bedding
  • Failure to aid patients in receiving proper medical care

Neglect is the only type of nursing home abuse that can happen unintentionally. However, that does not mean that you should tolerate or excuse it. If you notice signs that your loved one is not being cared for properly, possibly with bed sores, mood changes, malnourishment or poor hygiene, you should investigate the situation for abandonment and talk to an attorney.


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