In a study of 2,000 nursing home residents, 95% said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected.

Neglect, abandonment and self-neglect can be classified as similar forms of abuse. Neglect occurs in nursing homes when there is serious misconduct or mistreatment, which could result in bedsores or wrongful death.

While abuse is a harmful action against an elder, neglect is the lack of action. It’s an omission or failure to meet the standards of care necessary for an elder’s health and well-being.

What is neglect?

Neglect is a breach of duty defined as the refusal or failure to fulfill obligations to an elder. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has financial responsibilities to provide care for an elder, or the failure on the part of an in-home service provider to provide necessary care.

Neglect may be medical, emotional or social. Neglect often means basic needs aren’t being met, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials.

What are the signs of neglect?

Neglect comes in many forms and can occur in the presence of various circumstances. Neglect may be the failure to disperse medication or change bed sheets during every shift, causing the development of advanced stage bedsores.

Neglect may also be the failure to remove clutter or other environmental hazards from walkways, or the inability to maintain a patient care plan due to overcrowding in a nursing home.

Some signs of neglect include, but are not limited to:

  • Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
  • Unattended or untreated health problems
  • Hazardous or unsafe living condition/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no heat, or no running water)
  • Unsanitary and unclean living conditions (e.g. dirt, fleas, lice on person, soiled bedding, fecal/urine smell, inadequate clothing)
  • An elder’s report of being mistreated

What is abandonment?

Abandonment is defined as the desertion of an elderly person by an individual who has assumed responsibility for providing care, or by a person with physical custody of an elder.

Abandonment is a particularly dangerous form of neglect, especially for patients with cognitive difficulties. Abandonment of elders with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other disabilities can endanger residents and put their lives in jeopardy.

What are the signs of abandonment?

Abandonment may not be intentional, but it’s still dangerous and wrong. Abandonment may occur when staff members are stretched too thin, and nursing homes may be held liable for this inadequate staff to patient ratio.

Family members should always look for signs of abandonment. Some signs of abandonment include, but are not limited to:

  • Desertion of an elder at a home, hospital, a nursing facility, or other similar institution
  • Desertion of an elder at a shopping center or other public location
  • An elder’s own report of being abandoned

What is self-neglect?

Self-neglect is characterized by the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health or safety. Self-neglect is the refusal or failure for an elderly person to seek out adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, proper prescriptions and safety precautions.

If the elder is mentally competent and they understand the consequences of their decisions, they’re engaging in self-neglect. This involves a conscious and voluntary decision to avoid care.

What are the signs of self-neglect?

There are multiple signs that may indicate an elder hasn’t been engaging in proper personal care. If an elder is living in a nursing home, the staff has an obligation to understand the signs of self-neglect and provide care for the resident.

Some signs of self-neglect include, but are not limited to:

  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Untreated or improperly attended medical conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Hazardous or unsafe living conditions/arrangements (e.g., improper wiring, no indoor plumbing, no heat, no running water)
  • Unsanitary or unclean living quarters (e.g., animal/insect infestation, no functioning toilet, fecal/urine smell)
  • Inappropriate and/or inadequate clothing
  • Lack of the necessary medical aids (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures)
  • Grossly inadequate housing or homelessness

If you or a loved one experienced or suspect neglect in a nursing home, please contact our attorneys immediately.

Updated by Jerry Parker

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