Nursing home neglect is not always intentional. It is easy to imagine those who would mistreat elders as malicious or unbalanced. But kind, considerate caregivers who lack training can endanger patients through inadvertent neglect.
A cheerful and pleasant caregiver does not always guarantee the safety of a long-term care resident in his or her charge. Most seniors will not report neglect or abuse, so family members should look for:
- Poor hygiene: odors, dirty nails or skin, soiled clothing
- Physical indicators: unusual weight loss, rashes, bedsores or other untreated medical conditions
- Psychological indicators: strained relationship with a caregiver, emotional distress, unusual withdrawal
Anyone who suspects that a long-term care resident is being neglected should call Missouri’s Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 392-0210. Callers need not have proof of neglect; finding proof is the investigators’ job.
Unchecked neglect of seniors can lead to:
- Worsening dementia
- Learned helplessness and increased frailty
- Sleep disturbances and depression
- Illnesses and infections
- Chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes
- Premature death
Nursing homes are contractually obligated to provide a basic level of care. This obligation includes supplying fully trained staff and adequate resources for each patient. If staff neglects a patient, even unintentionally, the nursing home may be responsible for the damage caused.
If you know of ongoing elder neglect, report it to state authorities immediately. Other patients may be suffering in the hands of a neglectful caregiver. If you believe that nursing home neglect has harmed you or a loved one, you may be able to file a legal claim and recover compensation for the damage done.