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Mom’s Not Crazy – What does nursing home neglect look like?

Although many dedicated professionals work at senior care facilities, elder abuse and neglect is rising. The abuse in nursing homes can often be linked to the facilities taking measures to reduce costs and cut staff. As a result, the basic needs of the clients sometimes go unmet.

It is never easy to put one’s mother into a home. Knowing what to look for will ensure that your loved ones are not abused. Here are a few red flags that may indicate neglect or abuse:


Bedsores are pressure ulcers. They are injuries to the skin from prolonged pressure. They commonly develop on bony parts to the body like the heels, ankles, hips, and sacrum.

Bruises, scratches, blisters, or pinch marks should also arouse suspicion. The elderly are much more susceptible to injury caused by ropes, restraints or scalding water. Failure to regularly change the sheets, undergarments or bandages should also be corrected if detected.

Financial exploitation or fraud

Whole industries target the elderly to sell them insurance, cars, healthcare, and other commodities. As people decline in mental ability, fraud experts Malman Law tell us that they are easier to dupe and sometimes fall prey to unscrupulous salesmen. Stealing from the clients by staff in nursing homes is not unknown.

Malnourishment or dehydration

The elderly suffer from dehydration much more easily than the young, so a careless staff may not realize their client needs more water than they think. As digestion becomes more difficult, often the same food that would nourish a younger person cannot be eating by a senior.

Lack of supervision

Failures of supervision can lead to falls and injuries. A leading cause of death in the elderly, especially elderly women, is a broken hip from a fall. The injury happens more frequently in those with osteoporosis and results in lengthy recovery time in bed. The long periods of lying in bed lead to blood clots which can kill.


The elderly are very susceptible to medical overdose due to declining ability in the liver and kidneys to process drugs. In addition, the staff may be tempted to used antipsychotics, antidepressants, sedatives, or other drugs to “chemically restrain” the client. This practice is not only unethical, it’s dangerous.

Understanding their needs

When considering a nursing home, first you must assess the medical needs of your loved one to ensure the facility offers the appropriate level of care. You should consult with their physician to determine the level of assistance required. A variety of facilities are available including skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, and continuing care retirement communities.

Within each of the above categories, there may be further subcategories with regard to treatment options for specific conditions.

Know your rights

In recognition of the vulnerability of elders in California, the legislature mandated that all nursing homes provide residents with a written policy entitled “Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights.” Be sure you get a copy.

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