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Do not neglect these signs of nursing home abuse

When you realize that the care an elderly loved one needs exceeds the capabilities of you and other family members, you may search for a nursing home you believe puts their care and safety first. Sadly, no matter how much effort you put into finding a home, you never get a guarantee of your aging family member's safety. The problem of nursing home neglect and abuse remains a problem here in Milwaukee and around the country.

So, what can you do to ensure the safety of your loved one?

You should visit loved ones as often as possible and remain on the lookout for signs of abuse or neglect. When you visit your family member in the nursing home, look for the following signs:

  1. Lack of adequate personal hygiene often indicates a problem. Your family member might need help with bathing, dressing or even brushing his or her teeth. Signs include if he or she looks unkempt or smells dirty.
  2. Cleanliness of the facility indicates a problem as well. Unsanitary conditions open up residents to infections and illnesses.
  3. Rapid weight loss, dry mouth and chapped lips often indicate dehydration and malnourishment, which at the least point to neglect, if not abuse.
  4. Even limited exercise is required to maintain mobility. A loved one with no energy who stays in bed indicates neglect.
  5. Look for unexplained injuries, such as bruising, broken bones or physical wounds. Those injuries could come from either neglect or abuse.
  6. Emotional issues such as fear, depression or anger that seem out of character often indicate a problem.

Many nursing homes lack enough staff to care for every resident properly, which increases the potential for these signs of neglect. If you fail to receive adequate responses from the nursing home staff or management regarding any of these signs, further investigation and action might reveal the truth.

So what do I do if I see any of these signs?

Hopefully, you discovered the neglect or abuse before serious or permanent injuries resulted. Sadly, in many cases, the damage has already occurred. In either case, take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your loved one first. You will more than likely need to advocate on behalf of your elderly family member. If your loved one died under suspicious circumstances while in the care of a nursing home, knowing what to do next might be a challenge.

A visit to an attorney would help you understand the legal options available. An independent investigation into the factors that led to the injuries could prove helpful as you consider taking legal action against the nursing home. A lawsuit might be appropriate if neglect or abuse led to the serious or fatal injuries suffered by your loved one. In some cases, you might need to contact law enforcement officials as well.

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