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Nursing Home FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Here are answers to common questions clients have when they come to our office with concerns about nursing home abuse and neglect. For more information regarding your specific concern, please contact O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC today to schedule a free initial consultation.

What is the difference between nursing home abuse and neglect?

Nursing home abuse may involve physical abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, over-sedation, or sexual abuse. Nursing home neglect may involve the failure to provide clean and adequate clothing, medical care, protection from health and safety hazards, or adequate nutrition and/or hydration. Both abuse and neglect can cause significant harm, and may occur simultaneously.

What are the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect?

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. Here are some signs there may be a problem:

  • Slap marks, pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters should cause suspicion, regardless of the explanation given by nursing home staff
  • Untreated bedsores, need for medical or dental care, unclean or soiled clothing, poor hygiene, overgrown hair and nails, dehydration, and unusual weight loss
  • Withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained change in alertness, or other unusual behavior, such as wandering or depression
  • Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as "loans" or "gifts," and loss of property may indicate financial abuse

If you have concerns, trust your instincts and ask questions. Keep in mind that nursing home abuse victims may be experiencing more than one type of abuse.

Why does abuse occur in nursing homes?

Many factors contribute to the high rate of abuse in nursing homes, including too few staff, high turnover, and inadequate training. Sometimes, nursing homes fail to do background checks when hiring new employees, or hire staff who lack compassion or empathy for older people and those with disabilities.

Can a nursing home restrict who visits residents and when?

Nursing homes can set reasonable "visiting hours" to help establish routines and smooth operations at the facility. Residents may indicate the desire to allow or not allow visits from family members and others, and may change consent at any time. Medical personnel, such as a resident's general physician, or any state or local representative must be admitted at any time. If you are restricted from visiting your loved one during visiting hours, you should determine whether it was his or her intent to restrict visitors.