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What are the signs of nursing home neglect?

Illinois residents often turn to nursing homes when they can no longer care for older loved ones. An estimated 100,000 seniors now live in 1,300 nursing homes in the state. Unfortunately, a recent study shows that 12,000 seniors are at risk of getting abused each year. If you are a relative of a senior who is living in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, then it is your duty to help protect him or her from any form of abuse. Fortunately, there are signs you can watch for.

If a senior suffers injuries from unknown causes or complains about pain, he or she could be suffering from abuse. A relative should check to see if the person has lacerations, rope marks, imprint injuries, welts, black eyes or bruises. Also check for dislocations or sprains. Also observe the person's behavior. If the patient is afraid when caretakers are around, that could indicate abuse or mistreatment.

Also check the person's personal hygiene and whether the resident has skin lesions or bedsores. These are clear indications that the person is suffering from neglect on the part of nursing home staff. Another way to determine whether a senior is getting all the care he or she needs is by dropping in for a surprise visit. If the patient is often dressed in dirty clothes, has difficulty sitting or needs medical or dental care, then it may be time to look for another nursing home.

In the event of abuse or any form of mistreatment that results in injury, you can file a legal complaint to protect the best interests of your older loved one. This legal process can also help ensure that the same abuse or neglect does not happen again in the same facility.

Source: State.il.us, "Nursing home abuse, neglect, and fraud are crimes," accessed on Aug. 4, 2014

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