If you’re going to be spending some time with a loved one in a nursing home this holiday season, you may have an opportunity to better observe their care and conditions than you usually do. No one wants to believe that an elderly family member may be suffering from neglect or abuse. However, it happens all too often.

Following are some things to look for that could be signs of neglect or even abuse.

Unsanitary conditions

Nursing home standards for cleanliness are high. Unsanitary conditions are not only unpleasant but can increase the chance of infections in people whose immune systems may already be compromised.

Poor personal hygiene

Many nursing home patients need help with things like bathing, washing their hair, brushing their teeth and other daily hygiene practices. If your loved one doesn’t appear to be having their basic grooming needs met or have clean clothing, talk with someone in charge.

Lack of mobility:

Patients should be encouraged to exercise, even if it’s just simple movement classes, if they’re able. Those who can walk should do so, under the supervision of a staff member. Walking improves circulation, balance and muscle strength. Find out what your loved one’s daily routine is. If you spot bedsores, that’s a sign that your loved one is being left in their bed for too long.

Dehydration and malnutrition

These are both all-too-common issues in nursing homes. Patients may need to be encouraged to eat and drink, even when they don’t feel like it. This can take time and patience that staff members may not have. A lack of appetite could be the sign of a health issue that needs to be checked out.

Psychological problems

If your loved one shows signs of depression, anxiety or other psychological issues, it could a sign of abuse. Perhaps they aren’t getting the medication they need.

Unexplained injuries

If you spot bruises, fractures or other injuries, find out what caused them. Even if they weren’t caused by abuse, they could have occurred when they tried to move or walk on their own because no one was available to assist them.

Address your concerns with the nursing home staff and management, and let them know what changes you expect to see. If you believe your loved one is suffering from neglect or abuse, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to determine what your options are.

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