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Do you know the signs of nursing home neglect?

Two former Ohio nursing home workers pleaded guilty last month to charges in the death of an elderly patient. The 76-year-old woman, who was suffering from dementia, wandered outside on a bone-chilling January night in Pandora.

She left the building at about 12:30 a.m., and was found – deceased – approximately eight hours later. The temperature that night was two degrees below zero.

The two workers were indicted on manslaughter charges, but pleaded guilty instead to the lesser charges of felony forgery and misdemeanor gross patient neglect charges. They falsified records indicating that the woman had been checked on twice during the night when in fact that was not true.

Not every case of nursing home neglect leads to the death of a patient, but any form of neglect can be devastatingly detrimental to an elderly patient.

If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, would you know the signs of neglect?

Disheveled Appearance

If your loved one is still in pajamas at dinnertime, or his hair hasn’t been combed or washed in days, these could be signs of neglect. Neglect in one area often indicates neglect in other areas.

Weight Loss

While it is not uncommon for an elderly individual to lose weight, a sudden or dramatic drop in weight should be investigated. This weight loss could be due to an undiagnosed condition, lack of food, or lack of nutrition – which may all be due to neglect.

Bedsores

Bedsores are pressure sores caused when a patient remains in one position for long periods of time. If your loved one is incapable of repositioning himself in bed or in a chair, an aide should be helping him do that. When not done frequently enough, bedsores can develop – which could lead to a deadly infection.

Bedsores commonly appear on the following areas:

  • Tailbone/buttocks
  • Shoulder blades/spine
  • Backs of arms or legs
  • Back or sides of head
  • Heels

Sleepiness

Not to be confused with a tiredness or sleepiness that comes with advanced age, this is the sleepiness and unfocused gaze of a zombie. It is becoming more and more common for nursing homes to give antipsychotic drugs to disruptive patients and those with dementia, without their knowledge or consent.

This type of drug tends to make the patient much more docile, which means less work for the nursing home aides. But this type of drug can lead to health complications for the patient, and can potentially lead to interactions with other drugs taken by the patient.

If you think your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, there are steps you can take, including consulting with an attorney experienced in this area of law.

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