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5 keys to spotting nursing home neglect in Illinois

People who have loved ones in nursing homes in Illinois should know what the signs of neglect are.

Physical abuse that takes place in a nursing home often has visible signs: victims may have cuts, bruises or other markings that are obvious. But what about neglect? Sometimes, the symptoms are not as obvious. The National Council on Aging estimates that as many as one in 10 elderly Americans suffer some form of abuse.

So how can families in Illinois ensure their loved ones are being properly cared for in these facilities? Here, we take a look at some common signs of neglect and what people who suspect it is happening should do.

1. Bedsores

Anyone who spends a lot of time in bed could be prone to developing bedsores, which are injuries that happen to the tissues in the skin due to pressure. In a nursing home facility, staff members should be monitoring residents who are in bed or in a wheelchair for an extended period of time to prevent this serious medical problem from developing. The person's positioning should be changed regularly to alleviate pressure. When a patient is neglected, the likelihood of developing bedsores increases.

2. Sudden weight loss

Neglect in a nursing home setting may involve failing to ensure that a resident is properly nourished. This could result in a sudden weight loss, as well as dehydration.

3. A change in behavior

Victims of abuse often undergo a change in their behavior. For example, they may suddenly become withdrawn or appear disinterested in activities they would otherwise enjoy. Other people who are abused become aggressive or may start having emotional outbursts. Generally, family members should take note of any sudden changes.

4. Strained relationships with staff

It is not uncommon for nursing home residents who are experiencing neglect or another form of abuse to grow to dislike facility staff. Friends or family may notice that the resident shuts down around certain staff members or has a noticeably strained relationship with them.

5. A bad environment

Lastly, one sign that a nursing home resident is in a dangerous situation is when the environment around him or her is unsafe. The facility may have slippery floors, poor lighting or unstable furniture, for example. If facility leadership does not maintain a safe space, it is unlikely they are truly committed to what is best for residents.

If neglect is suspected

It is possible for some of these symptoms to manifest in the absence of abuse, though any issue should be thoroughly investigated. At the first sign of neglect, friends or family should act. The Illinois Department of Public Health reviews complaints and inspects facilities.

If a resident is in immediate danger, local law enforcement should be called. Otherwise, calling the DPH or Illinois Adult Protective Services is recommended.

Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with a personal injury attorney in Illinois.

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