There are 328 licensed nursing homes in Tennessee. They provide an invaluable service by helping us secure the health and comfort of our loved ones. Sadly, not all nursing homes – even the licensed ones – have the resources they need to care for the patients appropriately, which can lead to the neglect of their patients.

If you have an elderly parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend in a nursing home, there are a few signs you should look out for to ensure that your loved one is being care for properly. Some of the more common signs of neglect include:

  • Pressure sores (also called bed sores), which are lesions on the skin. They can form if a patient lies for too long in one position, or if the sheets are cleaned regularly or correctly.
  • Changes in your loved one’s personality, which could be brought on by chemical imbalances (due to medication errors) or emotional abuse (leading to depression or signs of social withdrawal).
  • Poor facility maintenance, which could lead to falls or trips. A poorly-maintained facility indicates a lack of sterilization in the health care areas, and may be a sign of the facility being understaffed.
  • Poor patient hygiene, such as soiled clothes or sheets or problems with dentures or teeth.
  • Sudden weight loss, a symptom of both depression and malnutrition. With malnutrition often comes dehydration, too, which can lead to bruising.
  • Hair loss, which could indicate anxiety. While hair thinning and loss are normal signs of aging, extreme hair loss could be a symptom of an underlying health problem.
  • Missing items, including money from accounts.

While outright physical abuse of patients isn’t very common, emotional abuse in the form of neglect is. Depriving your loved one of personal interaction (with staff or other residents) can be just as dangerous as stealing your loved one’s money or medication. In many cases, nursing home residents are too scared to report the neglect or abuse themselves, or may not understand what is happening to them, so it is critical that you look for these signs if you feel your loved one may be a victim of neglect or abuse.

If you have questions about nursing home abuse, please contact us for answers.