According to 2015 statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 15,700 nursing homes throughout the United States which are home to 1.7 million residents. The vast majority of individuals who live in nursing homes are elderly and many suffer from physical and/or cognitive ailments which inhibit their ability to safely live independently.
In the coming years, as the nation's estimated 65.2 million baby boomers continue to age and experience many of the health problems readily associated with the normal aging process, demand for skilled nursing home facilities is only expected to increase. When it comes to selecting a nursing home, elderly individuals and their loved ones often have many questions and concerns.
While many nursing home facilities are well-run and provide optimum care for residents, others are poorly managed and plagued by staffing and other problems that put the health, safety and very lives of residents in jeopardy. From injuries suffered as a result of neglect and abuse at the hands of staff members to those that stem from safety inefficiencies and violations, nursing home residents and concerned family members must be vigilant and pay attention to and report any potential red flags.
In cases where a nursing home resident is not able to effectively communicate; signs that he or she may be the victim of neglect or abuse include:
- unusual bruises, cuts, open wounds, burns or abrasions
- poor hygiene
- fall-related injuries
- malnourishment / dehydration
- soiled clothing and/or bedding
- sudden and unexplained changes in weight, behavior and mental state
- emotional and physical withdrawal
- missing personal items
- unusual activity on financial accounts
Family members who have concerns about a loved one's decline in physical and/or mental state since entering a nursing home would be wise to directly address such concerns with management and staff members. Additionally, concerns about the safety and maintenance of an actual nursing home facility should also be addressed with management and/or reported to the appropriate state board.
In cases where family members suspect or have proof that a nursing home resident suffered harm or injury due to abuse, neglect or unsafe conditions; it's wise to consult with an attorney.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Nursing Home Abuse," Feb. 3, 2016
Nursing Home Abuse Center, Feb. 3, 2016
Population Reference Bureau, "Just How Many Baby Boomers Are There?," Kelvin Pollard and Paola Scommegna, Feb. 3, 2016