A projection from the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, by 2030, there will be more individuals over 65 than under 18. With more seniors than ever, nursing homes are becoming overcrowded and understaffed. The disturbing effect is an increase in elder neglect and other forms of abuse.
Regardless of a nursing home’s staffing situation, seniors and their loved ones have every right to expect the highest level of care and supervision. The most common forms of elder neglect can lead to life-threatening conditions that were completely preventable.
Malnutrition and dehydration
As a person ages, the dangers of dehydration become much more serious. Certain medications may accelerate the speed at which fluid leaves the body. Dehydration symptoms may worsen when combined with drugs that target the regulation of blood pressure. Someone who does not consume enough water may feel lightheaded and irritable, and his or her blood pressure may slow to a dangerous rate.
Malnutrition is another major concern, especially because many nursing home residents are recovering from illness or injury and need the strength that proper nutrition gives. A missed meal delivery and insufficient fluids can leave any senior in ill health.
One responsibility of a nursing home is to provide shelter for its residents. There are many things that make up a safe environment:
- Air circulation
- ADA compliance
- Building maintenance
Staff in nursing homes should be on constant alert for signs of danger throughout the building. Even something as simple as a broken window in a resident’s room can have life-threatening consequences. Imagine if the weather fell below freezing or it started to rain. An intruder also might use the opening to break in.
A lack of cleanliness and poor climate control can also complicate existing medical conditions. All of these missteps count as neglect.
Untreated medical conditions
Poor treatment and neglect often lead to the appearance of bed sores. This is one of the most prevalent and persistent conditions that seniors in nursing homes face. What is worse, in many instances, staff members do not treat the condition. Infections develop, putting the person in even more danger.
Other forms of medical neglect include withholding of prescriptions or administration of inappropriate drug treatments. Mismanagement of pills can have fatal outcomes.
Nursing home abuse comes in many forms. Awareness of senior relatives’ care and treatment can help people notice the signs of neglect and take appropriate action to make their loved ones’ environments safer.