Nursing home mistreatment can take many forms. It may involve abuse in the form of financial exploitation, threats or physical harm. But one of the most common forms of elder mistreatment is neglectful care.

With abusive behavior, the signs may be easier to spot. You may notice unexplained injuries, unexplained bank account withdrawals or your loved one’s sudden depressed or fearful mood. With nursing home neglect, however, the symptoms may be less obvious.

What is nursing home neglect?

Nursing home neglect refers to substandard care that harms an elderly person. This may involve failure to provide for an elderly person’s basic needs, neglect their hygiene or inadequate medical attention.

If you have a loved on in a nursing home, it’s important to watch for the warning signs of nursing home neglect. The most common indicator is bedsores.

What are bedsores?

Bedsores or painful ulcers that form on bony joints of elderly people—especially on heels, ankles, elbows, hips or along the spine. Typically, bedsores occur in people who are bedridden or in a wheelchair. Bedsores may result from prolonged rubbing/pressure on the body or keeping the body in one position for too long. The Centers for Disease Control found that more than 10% of nursing home residents have bedsores.

Because many bedsores form on areas that are normally covered by clothing, you may not notice them without looking. It’s important to check your loved one for bedsores, as it may be a sign of neglect. Bedsores should not occur in elderly people:

  • Who are regularly repositioned by a caregiver
  • Who are positioned in a way that reduces pressure on bony areas
  • Whose shoes are taken off when they’re in a wheelchair for an extended period
  • Whose skin is inspected daily
  • Who receives appropriate nutrition and hydration

The idea of your loved one being mistreated in a nursing home is difficult to even think about. However, understanding the warning signs of neglect and proactively looking for them can keep your loved one safe from harm.