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Caring for someone who is sick and disabled, or close to dying, can be overwhelming for the family — especially if there’s nobody who can devote full time to the other person’s care.

That’s why when you put your mother, father or another close relative in a nursing home, you expect him or her to be cared for better than you can care for him or her on your own. That leaves many people unprepared for — and unsuspecting of — nursing home neglect.

Unlike abuse, which is often purposeful and easier to see, neglect is often the product of an understaffed nursing home with too many patients and not enough aides to handle the labor. Neglect can be insidious — it sometimes has to go on for quite a while before it can really be spotted.

Here are some signs that should make you alert to the possibility of nursing home neglect:

  1. Relatives are asked to call ahead or wait in the lobby so that the patient can be “made ready” for visitors. This indicates that the staff can’t be confident that your loved one is clean and properly cared for at any given moment.
  2. Check your relative’s hair, fingernails and toenails. Are they being trimmed? What about your relative’s skin? Are dry patches receiving lotion? Are there any signs (like diaper rash or sores) around your relative’s genitals that he or she is being left in a wet or soiled diaper too long?
  3. Check your relative’s toothpaste and/or denture cleaner. If the toothpaste and denture cleaner isn’t getting used, that’s a sure sign that your relative’s personal hygiene is being neglected.
  4. Repeated falls are often a sign of nursing home neglect. If a resident has to wait 20-30 minutes after putting a call light on to go to the bathroom, many will end up trying to take themselves to the bathroom rather than soil their clothing or bed. Similarly, if they need help dressing or moving to a chair, they may also just try to do it themselves rather than risk irritating an already over-taxed aide or nurse.

If you suspect nursing home neglect, an attorney can help you learn how to proceed in order to preserve your loved one’s rights.

Source: www.nextavenue.org, “6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect,” Sarah Blanchard, accessed Nov. 14, 2017

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