An aging population means that more people will become nursing home residents in the near future. Placing your loved one in a nursing home can be a hard decision, but there comes a point in many lives where nursing home care is the only option.
While many nursing homes are well-run, that is not true for all nursing homes. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you want to ensure they receive good care. If you suspect a nursing home is not properly caring for your loved one, or you have evidence of abuse, report the situation to the police and contact a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately.
Here are some major issues facing nursing home residents.
Bedsores are a common occurrence in nursing homes, and the development of these pressure ulcers means staff is not doing their jobs. Bedsores are preventable when nursing home staff examine and move patients with mobility issues on a regular basis. A deep bedsore may never heal completely, and they can prove fatal in a worst-case scenario.
Also known as decubitus ulcers, bedsores result from pressure when a patient’s body is immobile for a long period. The constant pressure impedes blood flow, and the area doesn’t receive the necessary oxygen and nutrients the blood delivers. The result is severe tissue damage. These sores most commonly form on the lower back, hips, tailbone, buttocks, back of the head, shoulders, knees, and heels. Bony areas of the body are most vulnerable to bedsore development, and residents who are very slender or obese are at the greatest risk of bedsore development if they are immobile. These sores are quite painful, but residents with cognitive issues may not be able to voice the pain they are experiencing.
Staging of bedsore ranges from one to four, with four the most severe. The staging is as follows:
- Stage 1 – Affected skin is red and warm, with the incipient bedsore looking like a rash. Pain and itchiness are present.
- Stage 2 – An open wound surrounded by discolored skin appears. The skin may blister, and the pain increases.
- Stage 3 – Cratering appears, an indentation occurring because of changes below the surface.
- Stage 4 – The bedsore is large, and may have affected the joints, muscles, bones or tendons. It is likely infected.
Bedsores in a well-run nursing home should not happen, because prevention is relatively simple. A resident should have their skin inspected daily, and their skin should always appear clean and dry. Immobile residents require turning or other positioning every few hours. Those in wheelchairs must have their positions changed every 15 minutes.
Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to falling. Falls may prove fatal to older people or result in permanent disability. In fact, a fall outside of a nursing home may end up as the main reason a person becomes a nursing home resident.
Nursing homes should have numerous safety measures in place to prevent falls. These include keeping the hallways clear and free of clutter or equipment. Hallways should have handrails to help residents with poor mobility move more easily. All areas should have good lighting so that elderly residents, many with poor eyesight, have a good view of their surroundings. Ensuring beds are not too high can help prevent falls out of the bed, and bathrooms require grab bars and raised toilet seats for fall prevention. Hip pads given to residents can help prevent fractures in case of a fall.
Some residents are at greater risk of falling than others, and nursing home supervisors should instruct staff to teach residents of sound mind ways to avoid falling. Since certain medications can make patients dizzy or otherwise raise the risk of falling, staff should conduct a medication review and speak with healthcare providers about substitution or changing the medication schedule to reduce the risk of falling.
Elder Abuse and Neglect
Many nursing home residents are not able to communicate with family members or guardians regarding their abuse or neglect. Suspect elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home if you notice any of the following signs:
- Unexplained bruising or marks
- Broken bones
- Overmedication or not given prescription medication
- Restraint signs, such as wrist bruises
- Unsanitary conditions
- Lack of hygiene care
- Missing items or money
- Suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts
- Attempts to isolate the resident from family and friends
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence Lawyer
If you or a loved one have experienced poor care or abuse in a nursing home, you need the services of an experienced nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer. Call us today or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.