How to protect loved ones from nursing home abuse and neglect in Ohio

Nursing home abuse can result in worsened medical conditions or death, however, there are steps that people can take to protect their loved ones.

With the input and assistance of their families, people throughout Ohio commonly make the decision to move into nursing homes. Often, this is with the hope that they will receive the care and assistance that they need. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are frequently abused and neglected by those they have trusted with their care. In fact, the Administration on Aging reports that more than 50 percent of the nursing home staff who participated in one study admitted to mistreating residents. However, there are things that people can do to help protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse and neglect.

Listen to nursing home residents

Sometimes nursing home residents will tell their family members that they are being mistreated. People should take these reports seriously, and take appropriate steps to ensure that the abuse or neglect does not continue.

In other situations, nursing home residents may not tell anyone that they are being mistreated. The Administration on Aging points out that this may be because they do not have the physical or mental capacity to report their mistreatment, they are afraid of retaliation or they fear getting their abusers in trouble, among other reasons. However, if people listen to their loved ones, they may indicate a problem without actually saying that they have been abused. Changes in feelings about a member of the nursing home staff, whether expressed or perceived, may indicate some type of mistreatment has occurred.

Watch for signs of abuse

The signs of physical abuse are somewhat easy to identify. These may include unexplained broken bones, bruises, cuts, sprains or dislocations, among other physical injuries. There are, however, a number of other signs that may indicate elder mistreatment, including the following:

• Lab findings of under-utilization of medications or medication overdose

• Untreated bedsores

• Dehydration or malnutrition

• A sudden, unexplained change in behavior

• Poor personal hygiene

Additionally, signs that restraints have been used on a person may indicate nursing home abuse. Inexplicably broken eyeglasses can also sometimes be a sign of elder mistreatment. By knowing what signs to look out for, people may be able to take steps to prevent the abuse or neglect from continuing.

Vary visiting days and times

In order to help protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse, it is important for people to visit regularly. Additionally, it is advisable that they vary the days and times when they visit. If the nursing home staff know that a resident's family visits him or her regularly, they may be less likely to mistreat him or her. Furthermore, caregivers may not be able to take steps to hide signs of abuse if they are not able to anticipate when a resident's family members will visit.

Report suspicions

Should people suspect their loved ones have been the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect, they should report their concerns. It is suggested that they first take their suspicions to the nursing home administrators. If the issue is not resolved at that level, family should notify their local Adult Protective Services agency, the Ohio Department of Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the Ohio Department of Health. In emergency situations, or when a resident needs immediate assistance, people should call 911.

Seeking legal guidance

People in Ohio may develop worsened medical conditions, or suffer death, as a result of nursing home mistreatment. In such situations, they may require additional medical treatment and care, which may lead to undue expenses. People who have fallen victim to nursing home abuse may benefit from consulting with an attorney to understand their options for seeking financial compensation.