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5 warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect

When we choose a Pittsburgh nursing home for an aging parent or loved one, we look for a facility with a good reputation that appears clean, comfortable and well-staffed with skilled, compassionate employees. But our job is not over once our relative has moved into a nursing home. In a way, it is just beginning.

To stop our parents from being the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, we must be on the lookout for suspicious signs. Here is a list of what to keep an eye out for when visiting family at a nursing home:

1. Changes in the resident's behavior. If a formerly gregarious parent has started acting withdrawn or fearful, it could be because staff members are intimidating or verbally abusing him or her. Bruises are another possible sign of abuse, but readers should be careful that any marks were not caused by medication.

2. Problems with the staff. Chronic understaffing, where aides are rushing through the halls as phones and call lights go unanswered, is a warning sign that residents' needs might be neglected. Management might be frequent offsite and staff turnover might be high. Try visiting on different days at various times, observing how the staff interacts with residents including your loved one. Ask them questions about your parent's health and care. If the staff seems uninformed or indifferent, that could be a red flag.

3. Malnourishment. Rapid weight loss or dehydration are major potential signs of nursing home neglect. When staff is not providing proper care, residents may miss meals or not get enough fluids.

Source: U.S. News and Word Whatnot, "9 Warning Signs of Bad Care," Kurtis Hiatt, Feb. 26, 2013


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