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Looking for Signs of Nursing Home Abuse


Taking care of aging parents is a difficult job.  Turning to adult day care and nursing homes for assistance are sometimes unavoidable arrangements.  This decision is often times inescapable – whether it is because of hectic work schedules, caring for young children, or medical handicaps that make home care impossible.  At MDRS, we understand how hard the decision to give up day to day control over your loved ones can be.  Therefore, it is fundamentally important that you feel comfortable with the caregivers who take on the daily responsibilities of caring for your elderly loved ones.

Unfortunately elder abuse and nursing home mistreatment does exist and at MDRS we are often called upon by disputing parties to help mediate and arbitrate these types of cases.  If you believe your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse then here are some key factors to look for.

An article on USNews.com recently offered “9 Warning Signs of Bad Care.”  Contributor, Kurtis Hiatt, consults Dan Sewall, the director of the senior behavioral health unit at the UC San Diego Medical Center, to sum up some of the major, often overlooked, signs of nursing home negligence.  First and foremost, keep an eye out for “emotional or physical changes.”  Hiatt warns that behavioral discordances as simple as becoming withdrawn from activities once previously enjoyed may be a clue to mistreatment.  More physical ailments, such as unexplained bruises or weight loss are also huge red flags.  While these symptoms are not enough to be certain, they undoubtedly should prompt further exploration into the care of your loved ones.

Be weary of a consistently unresponsive staff.  If you are not having your questions sufficiently answered or feel as though responses are vague and inconsistent, there may be cause for concern.  Hiatt cites Jatin Dave, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Older Adult Health in Boston, who claims that “I get more concerned when someone says, ‘This is how we do things here,’ and has no desire to help.”

If the vibe of the residence is constantly frenzied and the directors are missing in action then there may be a cause for concern.  Likewise, frequent staff turnovers, unanswered telephones, and more explicitly, a loved one’s direct wish to avoid interaction with particular personnel are warning signs that should not be ignored.

Ultimately, Hiatt acknowledges that you should go with your gut.  If you believe there is reason to be concerned do not hesitate to explore the possibility.

If negligence or abuse has occurred, MDRS may be able to help you mediate your issue or case with a nursing home.  Our out-of-court Alternative Dispute Resolution and mediation services can facilitate the process so that you can avoid a lengthy, expensive and emotionally taxing court trial.  MDRS has a panel of experienced neutrals, who can help you achieve fair and impartial results.