When trusting a nursing home with a loved one, it’s important to be aware of any signs of abuse or neglect that may occur. This means checking for nursing home injuries on a regular basis.
Identifying Nursing Home Injuries
While it may be difficult to determine which injuries were actually inflicted by abuse, being aware of common injuries and keeping a record of them all can help.
1. Bed Bound Injuries
Bedbound injuries usually come as a result of a patient being immobilized and left in the same position for too long. These types of injuries could include ulcers or deterioration of the skin.
The extensive pressure for long periods of time can also lead to the fat under the skin becoming affected and serious infections occurring. If caught early on these infections can be treated, however, if they are left for too long they can become life-threatening.
2. Dehydration or Malnutrition
Dehydration or malnutrition occurs when a patient has not been fed or given enough fluids. This is especially harmful to the case of seniors, who may not be producing enough saliva on their own, causing them to already have dry mouths.
Malnutrition can take time to show various signs, while dehydration can show signs in 24 hours. If not tended too immediately, both are likely to lead to a breaking down of the organs and eventually death.
Unfortunately, seniors not being properly cared for and tended to, especially while eating and drinking will likely result in asphyxiation. In most cases seniors who are not being watched over will choke on their food and without anyone tending to them will quickly run out of oxygen, resulting in death.
Food-related choking deaths in seniors homes is one of the most common causes of injury or death and can easily be avoided with proper attention and care.
4. Head Injury
If a senior experiences an unexplained trauma or seems to be suffering from a brain injury, it most likely comes as a result of a fall or a strong blow to the head. This is even more likely if repeated blows to the head can occur.
The sudden force to the skull can lead to brain damage and is typically contained within the affected area. Unfortunately, the majority of seniors that suffer from such an injury will not recover within their lifetime.
Infections, both viral and bacterial, should be considered a possible sign of negligence or abuse. Seniors, in general, are at a higher risk for infections due to their impaired functions and proximity to other illnesses.
For example, the elderly using a feeding tube are at a higher risk for pneumonia, skin infections and a number of additional complications. It’s important to know where the infection occurs as well as how often it returns in order to get a stronger sense of its cause.
6. Bed Sores
Similar to bed bound injuries, bed sores come as a result of being stuck in the same position for nearly days at a time. This means that the patient has not been able to get up to use the restroom and has not been bathed or cared too.
Even in cases where the patient is physically unable to move, the amount of care and attention they should be receiving would eliminate any reason for bed sores to arise.
7. Bruises, Cuts or Welts
Bruises cuts or welts should never be ignored as they can be glaring signs of nursing home abuse. It’s especially important to see where these bruises occur. Check if they are found in places that would typically be undetected unless someone was looking for them.
Some bruises will actually be made in the shape of a handprint or whatever object was used for the abuse. Insist on an exact report for an injury resulting in such scars and promptly follow up on them.
8. Multiple Injuries in Different Stages
If there are a number of injuries on the patient, all within different stages of healing, this means there is abuse occurring on a regular basis. As there is no reason for a senior to be in a position where they are accidentally hurting themselves daily, it’s more than likely that such abuse is being inflicted upon them.
Examining where the injuries occur and how often can help determine what type of abuse is occurring. Be sure to take photos of all scars to have evidence of them should the situation go to court.
9. Refusal to Eat
Not all injury is physical, the damage can easily be mental or emotional. Mental and emotional abuse can be just as damaging on senior as physical abuse, causing many of which to try and shorten their life as quickly as possible. This can mean exhibiting suicidal behaviors such as refusing to eat, drink or repeatedly attempting to hurt themselves.
If your loved one is suddenly exhibiting such behavior, it’s likely that there’s emotional damage occurring.
10. Unexplained Sudden Fear of Being Touched
If an elderly patient is experiencing physical abuse, they may begin to show signs of being jumpy, edgy, or afraid. If your loved one is suddenly exhibiting and unexplained fear of being touched then it’s likely there has been physical abuse going.
Even if there are no signs of cuts or bruises, a sudden change in behavior can be evidence enough that the appropriate care is not being given.
Paying Attention to the Right Signs
Nursing home injuries are just some of the red flags to be aware of while determining whether or not a nursing home is a right fit for your loved one. If you are noticing signs of abuse or neglect it’s important to take action immediately.
Speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer can help you determine the right path to take to help prevent any more elderly from being harmed.