When you put your loved one in a nursing home, they are going to be at risk of some common injuries. Of course these are not caused on purpose, but they still happen. It is important for you to know about these so you can be on the look out when you stop in to visit your loved one.

Bedsores

There are many different types of injuries that a loved one may get in a nursing home. In this section, I will discuss some of the most common injuries and medical issues that may arise in a nursing home.

One of the most common forms of injury that a person can sustain in a nursing home is a bedsore. This is also known as a pressure sore. A bedsore is an injury to skin and tissue underneath skin caused by extensive pressure on a part of the body. Bedsores generally develop when a person does not move for long periods of time. If nursing home employees neglect residents, bedsores are a common development. Bedsores commonly develop in areas such as:

  • Ankles.
  • Heels.
  • Tailbone.
  • Spine.
  • Shoulder blades.
  • Elbows.
  • Hips.

Pressure sores develop in these areas because of their makeup. There isn’t much fat or muscle to protect the bone from pressure in these areas.

Prolonged pressure with no relief will limit blood flow to tissue. When this happens, tissue and skin cells will become damaged and can eventually die. Friction can aggravate or worsen a bedsore. This may occur when your parent tries to move or a care provider attempts to move your parent. Another factor in nursing homes that contribute to bedsores is called shear. Shear is when two forces are moving in opposite directions. One example is a hospital bed that is elevated. If your parent is in this situation, they might begin slipping toward the bottom of the bed. Your parent’s skin will start pulling in a downward direction, but the bones will stay put. This force can create a bedsore.

Causes

Bedsores are extremely common in nursing homes. This is oftentimes due to the inattention of nurses and other staff members. If residents don’t have consistent and proper care, bedsores will develop. Residents should be moved, stretched out, and allowed to walk around to prevent bedsores. If you suspect that your parent has a bedsore, look for common symptoms. These symptoms include ulcers, scabs, redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, etc.

Falls

For elderly people, falls can be very common and also very dangerous. For many families, frequent falls are a sign that your parent needs more care and can no longer live alone. Nursing homes are supposed to reduce the number of dangerous falls that your parent has. While sometimes accidents do happen, falls in nursing homes should be prevented. They can be prevented by proper assistance from staff members.

Falls can lead to serious problems for elderly people. Falls in the elderly are commonly caused by:

  • Loss of balance.
  • Improper medication type or level.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Slow reflexes.
  • Confusion.
  • Changes in blood pressure.
  • Vision issues.
  • Cardiovascular disorder.
  • Infection.
  • Need for change of treatment for a particular condition.

Falling down can also cause serious problems for elderly people, including:

  • Bruising.
  • Cuts.
  • Broken bones – some that need surgery to repair.
  • Head injuries.
  • Spinal injuries.

In a nursing home, the hope is that falls can be prevented.  Attentive care from qualified staff members looking out for your parent can prevent falls. If a fall occurs, a staff member may be neglecting his or her duties. Or, a staff member might be purposefully failing to help your parent. While not all falls are a result of foul play, some falls can be. Make sure to carefully investigate the fall if one occurs.

Malnourishment

Neglect of nursing home residents will oftentimes lead to malnutrition or malnourishment. Sometimes, employees will withhold meals from residents if they are angry with them or to see them suffer. Other times, employees will only provide limited and non-nutritional food to residents, causing malnourishment.

Common symptoms of these issues include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Brittle bones.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dehydration.
  • Fatigure.

If malnutrition or malnourishment goes untreated, they can cause mental or physical disability. As soon as you begin noticing these symptoms, it is important to address them by getting in touch with a doctor. In some cases these symptoms may be caused by an underlying condition or disease. Still, malnourishment and malnutrition can indicate neglect or abuse. Keep an eye on your loved one if you suspect an employee has caused malnutrition in your parent. If you suspect this, don’t be afraid to get help.

Broken Bones

Getting a broken bone in a nursing home is something that is seen very often. As people get older, their bones age with them. As they age, they become weaker than they used to be. If they move a wrong way or take a hard fall, their bones can break very easily. This may come from the resident making a mistake, but it can also come from the abuse of their caregiver.

Restraint

The uses of restraints in a nursing home are pretty common. The staff might be trying to treat their residents. But, if they are not cooperating, they might have to use physical or chemical restraints. This might include strapping a resident to their bed or chair. It might also mean using medications to sedate them so they cant fight the staff. The use of restraints can end up hurting your loved one. The physical restraints can leave marks or cut their skin and bruise. Chemical restraints can lead to an overdose and harm your loved one.

Forced Feeding

If your loved one does not want to be in the nursing home, they might try anything to get out so they can go home. One of the ways they can try this is to stop eating. People think that if they don’t eat anything, they can be sent home. The nursing home knows that they can’t go home and will try to force feed them. By force-feeding, your loved one could choke and get very hurt.

Medical Errors

A medical error is a negative effect of care by a doctor, nurse, or other care provider. To be defined as a medical error, the issue must have been preventable. It also must be caused by the recklessness or carelessness of the provider. One common example of medical errors include an incomplete or inaccurate treatment or diagnosis.

Just as with falls in nursing homes, not all medical errors are purposeful. Medical errors can be the result of many issues. Some of these issues are lack of communication, lack of knowledge, poor focus, and more. But, in some cases, a care provider will purposefully commit a medical error. Getting them out of this situation is in your best interest. If you misdiagnose or mistreat an issue in order to inflict pain on a resident. If this is the case, you should seek help immediately.

Medication Errors

A very common example of abuse in nursing homes is a medication error. A medication error is defined as any event that leads someone to administer an inappropriate type or amount of medication to a patient. For the event to constitute a medication error, it must have been preventable by proper treatment. Sometimes, medication errors are not committed on purpose.

A nurse may misread a prescription label or forget to give a resident their medication, but did not purposefully cause harm to the resident. In this case, a medication error would occur. But, the nurse or other staff member could argue that the medication error was an accident. In other cases, nurses may commit medical errors on purpose. This can happen if a nurse deprive residents of pain medication, administer the wrong dosage, etc. To determine the nature of a medication error, you should talk openly and honestly with your parent.

Harassment

Today, elderly people are often ridiculed because of their condition. When the staff in a nursing home is like this, they might end up harassing your loved one. They might not mean to, but cracking jokes every now and then might make your loved one feel inferior. By putting them down and making them feel like they are not good enough, they will become upset and not want to be there anymore. These feelings often lead to depression. Depression will cause more problems than they had before and they health can decline.

Discrimination

Discrimination is defined as unfair treatment of a person based on a category that they fall into. For example, people can face discrimination based on their race, gender, disability, age, etc. Residents in nursing homes should be free from all types of discrimination. A few common examples of discrimination are:

  • Harassment.
  • Refusing to accept someone as a resident due to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • Unfair treatment/special treatment for others.
  • Receiving the worst room in the home based on gender, race, religion, etc.
  • Waiting for treatment, food, etc. based on gender, disability, race, etc.
  • Exclusion from certain activities.