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Abuse or Neglect?

While it's not pleasant to think about, nursing home abuse and neglect are unfortunately not uncommon these days. Sometimes this is due to staff being untrained or unsupervised.

But abuse and neglect do not mean the same thing.

Abuse implies that there was malicious or harmful intent, in other words a staff member does something that results in harm.

Neglect on the other hand is generally caused by a staff member neglecting to do something; causing harm by not doing something.

For example, if in a nursing home environment, your loved one is ignored and left alone for extended periods of time repeatedly then that might constitute neglect. Or if your loved one is not receiving adequate help with their personal hygiene such as bathing, brushing their teeth or other oral care this may constitute neglect.

Nursing homes are required to provide preventative measures along with adequate attention to a patient's medical, cognitive, disease control and medication needs. Lastly it seems obvious but care facilities need to be safe and clean and provide a reasonable amount of food and water.

It's important to know the warning signs of neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Missing eyeglasses, dentures or hearing aids
  • Dehydration
  • Emotional agitation
  • Infections
  • Wandering
  • Rapid changes in weight
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Unexplained broken bones, possibly due to falls while wandering
  • Heavy medication or sedation

It's difficult to imagine and unpleasant to think about but there are recourse measures available. If you have reason to believe your loved one has been abused or suffered neglect at a nursing home or care facility contact an attorney.

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