Feeling Comfortable with Your Nursing Home Choices: Learn How to Protect Older Adults in Long Term Care

Guest Post Author:  Otway Russo, P.C. | The Law Offices of Otway Russo, P.C.

As our society continues to grow older, a reality that many Americans will face is the need to move into a nursing home. Care homes are beneficial for individuals who require round-the-clock care and can utilize Medicaid/Medicare benefits that are only found in long-term care facilities.

Nursing homes are often considered “bad” or “negative” places, but this is not true; in fact, many of the individuals who move into a nursing home will receive the proper care they need and deserve during their later stages of life.

Nursing home reputations, however, cause many family members to struggle with the decision of their loved one moving into these types of facilities. Fortunately, families can watch over their loved ones by learning how to recognize signs of negligent care. To know these types of warning signs can help bring peace of mind that they can protect their loved one even if things go awry.

The Law Offices of Otway Russo, P.C. prides themselves on “personal attention, professional competence and the highest ethical standards” in representing clients across multiple areas of law, including personal injury and medical malpractice. Because of their expertise in nursing home negligence cases, they have outlined five of the most common warning signs to look out for if you or a loved one has been admitted into a nursing home.

1) Unexpected hospitalization:

It is not uncommon for residents of nursing homes to experience periods of hospitalization, particularly in patients who have severe or deteriorating health conditions. In these cases, a trip to the hospital is often expected and anticipated by both the patient and their loved ones.

An unexpected trip to the hospital, however, may be cause for questioning, and you should ask to speak with the on-duty nurse and aid at the time of your loved one’s admission. If you cannot receive adequate answers from the staff regarding your loved one’s condition or hospitalization, you should ask for a more formal investigation into the case.

2) Inadequately explained bruises or fractures:

Bruises, fractures or noticeable changes in the physical health of your loved one is a clear sign that injury has occurred. Unfortunately, it may not be readily discernable if these injuries are caused by accident, abuse or negligence.

Similar to unexpected hospitalization, be sure to ask questions. If you cannot receive answers, investigate further until the cause of the injury becomes known.

3) Skin breakdowns/bed sores:

Bed sores are almost entirely preventable with proper care and the frequent rotation of bed linens. The presence of skin breakdowns and bed sores is often an indicator that one or neither of these activities is occurring, and can be indicative of potential abuse or negligence, which too often is due to understaffing.

4) Changes in consciousness or mental state:

It is not uncommon for nursing home staff to use medical or chemical restraints, particularly with residents who might otherwise resist or object to particular treatments. It is important to know that nursing home residents have the right to make decisions for themselves, and impeding their ability to make sound decisions is a gross violation of that right.

Changes in a loved one’s consciousness or mental state (such as a constant state of confusion or coma) can signify inappropriate use of substances by medical staff on site. If you notice changes, bring up your concerns to the charge nurse immediately, and again at your loved ones care plan meeting.

5) Sociability changes:

Isolation is one of the most common warning signs of potential abuse or neglect in nursing homes, especially in otherwise outgoing or social individuals. If a loved one suddenly becomes reclusive and does not engage in conversation with you or others, this could be a sign of something more serious.

Ask your loved one to confide in you as to why their level of sociability has suddenly changed. If they are unable or unwilling to tell you, speak with a manager or director about your concerns to find the cause. The Activities Director is an excellent place to start because they will be able to show documentation as to when the change occurred.

Nursing homes do not have to be a place to fear especially when the proper precautions are taken to ensure that your loved one is receiving appropriate and adequate care from staff. If you have any doubts about the status of a facility, start to investigate on your own to determine if it is the right place for your loved one. Speaking with staff, current/former residents and searching for online patient reviews are a great place to start in better understanding the “behind the scenes” of the facility.

As the saying goes, it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when the health and wellbeing of a loved one is concerned. Don’t wait until it is too late to take action—be proactive, cautious, and know the signs of negligence.

About the Author:

The Law Offices of Otway Russo, P.C. is a Salisbury, MD-based law firm that handles both personal injury and medical malpractice cases. With decades of experience across multiple areas of law, they are dedicated to handling each case with local knowledge, personal attention, professional competence, and the highest ethical standards. Follow on Facebook.

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