Brian, Zwick, Stone & Associates
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Is the bruise you noticed a sign of elder abuse?

No adult child of aging parents in Ohio or anywhere wants to imagine their loved one suffering neglect or abuse at the hands of a care provider. Whether you are currently researching nursing homes to help transition an elderly loved one to an assisted living lifestyle or have already helped them settle into a new residence, there are certain things to which you'll want to pay close attention to ensure that he or she is getting high-quality care.

No facility or staff member is perfect. People make mistakes and it's sometimes best to acknowledge an error, forgive the person who made it and move on. It's another story altogether, however, if someone who is supposed to be caring for your mother or father is neglecting his or her responsibility, or worse, causing personal injury through abuse. You may feel frustrated and angry upon learning your loved one was the victim of substandard care. The good news is that there are immediate steps you can take to pursue justice.

Signs that warrant further investigation

Let's say you show up unannounced to visit your loved one and notice that the sheets on his or her bed appear as though they've gone unchanged for some time. While there may be a reasonable explanation for this sign of disarray, it may also be a sign of ongoing negligence. The following list of symptoms may help you determine whether your loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect:

  • There's a difference between a messy room and unsanitary living conditions. If your loved one's living area appears unclean, you have the right to an explanation because nursing homes must adhere to safety and health regulations.
  • Unsanitary living conditions can cause your parent to contract dangerous (if not, fatal) infections or illnesses. Strong stenches of urine or feces, food that hasn't been cleared away, dirty bed linens, and other signs of filth should prompt further investigation.
  • Caregivers should also attend to your loved one's personal hygiene needs. If that's not happening, you may have a neglect problem on your hands.
  • Does your parent ever complain about being hungry or thirsty and not having enough to eat or drink? This is a signal to make sure staff members are providing sufficient and nutritional sustenance every day.
  • If your loved one suffers a fall or shows any signs of physical injuries, such as lacerations or bruising, ask questions immediately and make sure you are satisfied with the answers officials provide. Trust your instincts if something doesn't add up.
  • Stark changes in your parent's personality may also be a sign of neglect or abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes at least 1,800 deaths in nursing homes to fall-related incidents each year. Sadly, many deaths would have been avoidable if care providers had fulfilled their duties. By being alert and proactive, you can help keep your loved one safe and take immediate action against any neglectful or abusive behavior.

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