How can New Yorkers protect their loved ones from nursing home neglect?

Nursing home neglect and abuse are common problems throughout New York, but by taking certain steps, people can help protect their loved ones.

Many people in New York, and elsewhere, likely have loved ones or family members living in nursing homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 1.3 million nursing home residents throughout the U.S. in 2012. Unfortunately, many residents in such facilities are the victims of neglect and abuse at the hands of those charged with their care. There are steps people can take, however, to ensure their loved ones are protected.

Recently, NBC New York reported on the deaths of two men at a nursing home in Long Island. One of the men, who suffered from dementia, was accidently hanged as he tried to get out of his wheelchair restraints. He was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes, but was left unattended for close to an hour. The other man developed large, deep bedsores. The sores helped to cause a septic infection, which attacked his respiratory system. He died of cardiac arrest. These were just two of many people who have been the victims of nursing home negligence.

Signs of nursing home neglect and abuse

Knowing the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse is one of the first steps people can take to protect their loved ones. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some of the most common signs of negligence and abuse include the following:

  • Unusual weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Development of bedsores
  • Bruises, abrasions or broken bones
  • Unattended medical needs

Additionally, unexplained withdrawal of nursing home residents from their normal activities might also be a sign they are being neglected or abused. Furthermore, people who are the victims of nursing home neglect or abuse may experience a sudden change in their alertness. They may also become unusually depressed.

Listen to residents

Often, signs of negligent care and abuse may not be visible. For this reason, another important step people can take to protect their loved ones is to listen to them. This is particularly true when nursing home residents express concerns about their treatment and care.

Report suspicions of neglect or abuse

It can be important for people who are concerned their loved ones have been the victims of neglect or abuse is to report their suspicions. According to the New York State Office of the Attorney General, such concerns should generally be brought to the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit if there is no immediate danger. In situations when there is immediate danger and urgent assistance is needed, people should call law enforcement instead.

Keywords: nursing home, abuse, neglect