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Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

Learn more about the warning signs from an Atlanta-area attorney

Sometimes, we don't realize right away when our loved ones are being abused or neglected in a nursing home. Without warning, they might have serious health problems or, in certain extreme cases, a loved one can die as a result of their injuries.

That's why it's important to be able to identify abusive or harmful behavior by health care workers as soon as possible. That way, your parent, spouse or another loved one might receive the medical care they need right away to help them get better instead of worse.

George S. Johnson can help your family identify irregularities or other warning signs that something might be wrong. A longtime Atlanta-area attorney, George has worked with many families dealing with allegations of neglect or abuse.  You'll feel comfortable talking to George. He knows how to listen - and he knows how to act.

What are the warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect?

It often takes a trained eye to spot nursing home abuse or neglect. Sometimes, the warning signs are subtle. Additionally, many families trust the people charged with caring for their loved ones, so they may not immediately connect an irregularity with abuse or neglect.

You should always be vigilant, even if your loved one is residing in a facility with a good reputation and the staff seem professional and friendly. Some of the most common warning signs to watch out for include:

No one ever wants to imagine that a loved one is being harmed by the people we hired to care for them. But sadly, it happens all too often. If you suspect any abuse or neglect, contact us. Take strong legal action right away. It's not just your loved one's rights you're standing up for. It's every person who lives there and their family members.

"Why do I need a lawyer if I suspect nursing home neglect or abuse?"

Nursing homes often deny harming the people who live there. If a resident is injured, the nursing home or its insurance company may blame the victim. They might say your loved one got hurt because he or she is older or has poor balance. You might hear some other excuse to shift blame from the real source of the injury.

Don't take their word for granted. You know your loved one best. If something seems wrong, report your concerns to the police and Georgia's Ombudsman Long Term Care Residents' Advocate, which investigates claims statewide.

But don't simply assume state officials will take care of all your family's needs. They will investigate the allegation and work to resolve problems. But they don't deal with issues such as whether your family receives compensation for medical bills and other expenses associated with your loved one's injury. We can also seek punitive damages (financial compensation) in certain circumstances. Contact our law firm today and found out how we can help you secure justice.

Bruises

Bruising on the arms, especially the forearms, often indicates that a nursing home patient has been roughly handled or restrained against his or her will. A seemingly minor bruise could suggest more severe physical abuse.

Ask your loved one about the injury. How did it happen? If he or she doesn't remember or seems afraid to answer your questions, report what you saw and what your loved one said to a supervisor at the nursing home. If the person in charge gives vague or suspicious answers, contact the police, and then contact our law firm.

Along with bruises on the arm, nursing home patients also sometimes sustain bruises on other parts of their body, including their face, leg or back. Wherever you notice a strange bruise, say something right away. Your loved one could be at risk.

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Unexplained weight loss

Many adults naturally lose weight as they get older. But a nursing home resident's weight loss of 10 or 20 pounds or more could be a sign of malnutrition or dehydration. Health care workers may not be ensuring your loved one is eating and drinking properly.

Sudden weight loss may be linked to other medical problems, including an infection or diarrhea. The nursing home workers might not have meant to harm your loved one. The neglect might be connected to an institutional problem. The management might have failed to properly staff the facility. This sometimes happens to save money and boost profits. They might have put one person in charge of overseeing feeding for several residents. Studies show that one person should be overseeing nutrition for, at most, two or three residents.

All sorts of serious health problems can develop if your loved one is not getting enough food to eat. We can help you find out what's happening and hold the nursing home accountable for its actions (or inactions). We'll also work with you to make sure that your loved one gets proper medical attention as soon as possible. There's no time to waste. Your loved one's health is on the line.

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Sudden mood changes

You know your loved one best. If he or she starts acting differently, or starts withdrawing, it could be a sign of abuse or neglect.

You should be concerned if your parent, spouse or another loved one suddenly seems depressed for no reason. The same goes for unexplained crying, sleeping hours longer or eating irregularly. All of these things could be warning signs of abuse.

Talk to your family member and ask what's going on. And if they seem reluctant to talk, contact us. We can help you get the support you need and hold the nursing home accountable.

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Unexplained medical problems

Nursing home residents don't typically get sick or injured without reason. Sometimes, a sudden medical problem is linked to negligence. For example, your loved one might not be receiving the right medication. Or the food staff might not have washed their hands and passed along harmful bacteria when serving breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Whatever the cause, you should be concerned if your family member suddenly needs to be taken to the hospital or has a fever, pneumonia or another serious medical condition. All of these health problems could be signs that something is seriously wrong. And if the nursing home gives you vague answers to your questions, you should be suspicious. Some nursing homes cut corners on patients' health and safety to save a few dollars. That's not right. That's why we're here to help you.

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Visitation rights restricted

If a nursing home says you can't visit your parent or spouse, you're right to be suspicious. Even if they provide a legitimate reason (they're sick, taking a nap, etc.), you should not take them at their word. Ask for documentation of an injury. And insist on seeing them yourself.

You have the right to see your loved one at a nursing home. When nursing homes prohibit family visitations, it's often because the nursing home isn't taking good care of its patients or the facility.

Understaffed nursing homes may limit visitation because they don't want family members to see unwashed residents, dirty floors or other unsanitary conditions. Health code violations are serious - and so is your loved one's health. That's why we want to help!

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Change in finances

Nursing home patients usually have predictable monthly living expenses. That's why you should be alarmed if large amounts of money are suddenly being withdrawn from your loved one's checking or savings account.

Worst of all, many patients and their families might not realize they're being bilked. Many nursing homes automatically take money out of a resident's accounts to pay for rent, food and items sometimes not covered by agreements between nursing homes and residents.

If you notice irregular transactions, save the documents (and print them out if they're online) and contact our law firm immediately. This type of potentially illegal activity might have been going on for months or even years. And the sooner we start investigating what happened, the better.

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Change in will

People put a lot of thought into writing their will. They want to make sure their wishes are carried out if they can no longer function for themselves (living will) or after they pass away (last will and testament).

You should be extremely concerned if a loved one living in a nursing home suddenly changed their will. Perhaps they have a good reason why. But such an unexpected change could be a sign that their nursing home or someone else is trying to take advantage of them.

We can investigate your concerns and help put your mind at ease. If someone forced your love one to change their will (or forged their will), we can help you report such criminal activity to the police and hold whoever broke the law accountable for their actions.

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The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC

One Decatur Town Center
150 E Ponce de Leon Avenue, Suite 225
Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: (404) 378-5878
Toll Free: (866) 904-6653