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The possibility of nursing home abuse is in the back of many people’s minds when they move their loved ones into long-term care facilities. Whether it’s a state-run nursing home or an ultra-luxurious private nursing home, there’s always a risk that physical, sexual, or emotional abuse will occur.
Because of that ever-present risk, family members are often on high alert for signs of abuse, such as cuts, bruises, and other indicators of assault. But neglect can be even more damaging to residents, and because it is often much more subtle, it can go unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years. And in some cases, it even kills.
In the most extreme cases, neglected residents simply aren’t provided enough food to eat and liquids to drink, causing their health to rapidly deteriorate—especially when they have preexisting illnesses. It’s essential for nursing home residents to have well-balanced diets that meet their caloric needs. When they become malnourished, their mobility, energy levels, and ability to fight off infections can be severely impaired.
Dehydration can be an even more pressing issue than malnourishment. Without sufficient fluid intake, even healthy people can experience debilitating health problems. They may become more likely to fall and break bones, have seizures, and even go into shock due to low blood volume—a condition called hypovolemic shock. Severe dehydration can be fatal for anyone, especially nursing home residents.
Nursing home residents who are in poor health or who are experiencing negative symptoms should be evaluated and treated by doctors as soon as possible. Senior citizens and people who are already in a fragile state can go downhill quickly when their health problems aren’t treated on time, but neglected residents may be forced to wait days, weeks, or months before their symptoms are addressed and treated.
When residents aren’t treated or diagnosed on time, their illnesses may progress to a state where they become life-threatening. In other cases, residents may be diagnosed accurately and early enough for their health problems to be effectively treated, but they don’t receive the medications and interventions they need to recover.
Unfortunately, many residents are unable to get out of a bed or chair without help, and some are completely confined to their beds. These residents must be frequently moved or turned in their beds to avoid developing bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, which can be painful and even life-threatening when left untreated.
Infection is a risk with both bedsores and poor hygiene, which is also common in neglected residents who are unable to leave their beds without assistance. These residents must either be helped to the bathroom multiple times per day or be cleaned and bathed multiple times per day. When they aren’t, they can develop serious infections due to a buildup of bacteria.
Nursing homes and resident rooms should be kept at comfortable temperatures all year long, especially in the summer and winter. Many residents are highly vulnerable to extreme temperatures, as they may be unable to properly regulate their body temperatures. Residents who are in poor health may be even less resistant to extreme temperatures or even slight deviations from room temperature.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes allow temperatures to rise in the summer and plummet in the winter to reduce costs. This cost-saving measure doesn’t just decrease residents’ comfort in their facilities, but it can put some at risk of serious health problems and even death.
Nursing home staff members should be well-aware of the overall health and mobility of the residents they oversee and care for. When a resident’s mobility is limited or has declined, staff should take the appropriate steps to ensure that they are safe when moving around the facility or even getting in and out of bed, chairs, and the shower.
When residents aren’t properly supervised or evaluated, they can suffer debilitating and potentially fatal falls. For example, a resident who normally needs a walker may stop using it. And when staff members neglect the resident, they may be unaware that they’ve stopped using their assistive device and are now at extreme risk of falling.
The owners, administrators, and staff members of nursing homes owe big responsibilities to their residents, their residents’ families, and their local communities. They are charged with caring for some of the most vulnerable members of society. When they put profits over resident safety and wellbeing, they aren’t just violating trust, they’re putting innocent lives in danger.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio nursing home abuse lawyers work hard to help residents and their families get maximum compensation after abuse and neglect-related injuries and deaths. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if your loved one suffered or even died while in the care of a nursing home facility. We’ll do everything we can to help you win your claim.
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