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Thanksgiving Nursing Home Visits: Recognize Abuse

Florida nursing homes tend to be busier this time of year, starting with Thanksgiving, as families flock to pay their loved ones a visit for the holidays.

Our Boca Raton nursing home lawyers truly hope you have a wonderful time, and that you and your loved ones find much for which to be thankful.

We also, however, would make a gentle reminder that this visit is an important opportunity for you to make sure that your elder loved one is getting the appropriate level of care they deserve. Unfortunately, not every nursing home or nursing home employee operates under the standards that we would like – or that is legally required of them.

This is important especially if you don’t get a chance to visit often. Loved ones may not come out and tell you over the phone whether something is not right, either because they are unable to or sometimes, because they are in fear. Even in person, it might be tough to get more information from them. Plus, they may not want to worry you.

But it’s critical that you know – for your own peace of mind as well – that they are being well taken care of.

Some of the risk factors that have been identified by the National Center on Elder Abuse are:
–Poor staffing levels;
–A history of deficiencies or complaints involving the facility;
–A patient with dementia;
–A patient who has a high degree of dependence for basic needs;
–A patient whose family lives far away and/or doesn’t visit often.

Of course, these don’t necessarily mean that if one of these factors is present that someone will necessarily be abused, and it doesn’t mean someone won’t be abused or neglected just because these factors aren’t present. But they are a starting place.

Abuse or neglect against elderly nursing home residents can take many forms. There is the obvious physical abuse. This would be things like hitting, punching, kicking, scratching or otherwise physically harming the individual.

But in many cases, the abuses are more subtle. For example, they may be feeding the patient an improper diet that could lead to choking or an allergic reaction. Certain staff may be verbally abusive to a patient, causing them to shut down emotionally.

Even if you may not visit that often, some of the signs of nursing home abuse that you can be on alert for include:

Rooms or other areas of the facility that are not clean or well-maintained;
–Patients who are not assisted with walking or getting around, leading to a lack of mobility, which can lead to pressure sores and other skin infections;

–Lack of toileting, leading to incontinence, increased falls, skin infections;

–Lack of help with eating or drinking, leading to dehydration and malnutrition;

Lack of bathing, which can lead to not only a sense of indignity but infections;

–Not property dispensing certain medications which, at worst, can result in death;

–Ignoring cries for help or bell calls, which indicates either understaffing or a lack of compassion – a big problem either way.

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, contact our offices for more information about what you can do.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Nursing Home Abuse Risk Prevention Profile and Checklist, 2005, National Center on Elder Abuse

More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Abuse: Always Question Staff’s Version of Injuries, Nov. 10, 2012, Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

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