Prevent nursing home abuse by being vigilant

The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home is difficult. Though you would like to be able to care for him or her at home, sometimes family members need professional, medical help. It may be impossible for some families in Queens to provide the 24-hour care or medical assistance that a loved one may need. But, just because someone is in a nursing home doesn’t mean that a family don’t care what happens the minute after it drops him or her off. New Yorkers would be outraged to learn that their loved ones were the victims of nursing home abuse.

Fortunately, there are many things that individuals can do to help prevent abuse and neglect of nursing home residents. One of the most important things to do is to be active in the care of a family member. This may mean developing a relationship with the head of the nursing home, the individual in charge of medical staff and a family member’s primary care physician. It could also mean being present when nursing home staff creates a plan of care for the resident and looking that plan over with the primary care physician. But, it may simply mean something as simple as getting to know the individuals who live around a family member and their relatives.

It is also important to be on the lookout for any changes in a family member’s health. Is your loved one showing signs of dehydration or malnutrition? If so, he or she may not be getting enough to drink or eat. Is there any indication that he or she is incontinent? This could mean that the nursing home staff is not helping the resident to the bathroom or is only rarely doing so. Or, maybe a loved one has tight, stiff muscles from an inability to move or get out of bed and walk around.

Though these may all be signs of nursing home abuse and an active, vigilant family member may be able to prevent injury by keeping close tabs on a loved one, it is ultimately the nursing homes that need to ensure their residents are treated with respect and in accordance to their medical needs. When nursing homes are abusing or neglecting their patients, they can ultimately be held accountable under personal injury lawsuits.

Source:, “Your Legal Corner: Maximizing nursing home safety,” Victoria M. Dalton, Oct. 7, 2012