Recognizing Signs of Neglect

1. How can I recognize signs of neglect of a nursing home resident?

The most common forms of neglect involve the failure of the nursing home to provide water, food or medicine to the nursing home resident. Other evidence of neglect may involve leaving a resident alone – in his room or in a hallway – for hours at a time, the failure of nursing home staff to change soiled linens or bed clothes, or the failure of staff to respond to call buttons.

For example, in a recent case, a daughter visited her father at a nursing home and found her father very thirsty.  The daughter poured a cup of water, which the father drank. She kept pouring and her father consumed four cups of water.  Further investigation revealed that the staff did not ask if residents were thirsty between meals, even though some medications cause dry mouth and other medications require frequent hydration.

As the guardian of an elderly nursing home resident, you should count pills, and when you visit, observe the status of other patients.  We also recommend that you “team up” with the guardian of one or more other residents and work together to observe both your parents and your teammate’s parents when you visit.

Neglect is often caused by laziness, carelessness and understaffing and poor staff training.