Far too often we see news reports of physical abuse in nursing homes around the country.  We have written other articles on how to prevent nursing home neglect, but how do you spot signs of nursing home physical abuse once you have chosen a facility?

While the signs and symptoms are many, common warning signs of nursing home neglect and physical abuse include:

  • Broken bones, bruises or welts
  • Untreated debubitus ulcers or bed sores
  • Torn, stained or bloody clothing
  • Dirtiness or poor hygiene
  • Dehydration
  • Signs of restraint – such as rope marks on a resident’s wrists
  • Broken eyeglasses

These are all important factors to document and approach the management of the care facility right away.

If you feel that your concerns are not being met, there are several actions that can be taken to protect your loved one.

  • File a formal complaint with the facility, keeping a copy for yourself
  • Alert the resident’s primary care physician and schedule an assessment (note–if the primary care physician is also the facility’s medical director, you may want to consider an outside consultation).
  • Demand that the resident be transported to an emergency room for evaluation.
  • File a formal complaint with the Ohio Department of Health. The Ohio Department of Health employs experienced investigators who will visit the facility and verify the complaint.
  • Contact the local ombudsman and provide her with copies of your complaints to the facility and the Ohio Department of Health.
  • Research other facilities and prepare to transfer your loved one to a new home.

Of course, the best defense against nursing home neglect and physical abuse is time spent with the resident.  Frequent visits by multiple family members, particularly visits that are unscheduled and occur at different hours of the day and night, help insure that the caregivers know they are being monitored by family.