For family members who are trying to look for signs of nursing home neglect, it's important to remember that it can in some cases be mistaken for the natural aging process. Below are a few signs and symptoms that illustrate how this can happen.
1. Weight loss.
An elderly person will often lose weight as he or she ages, especially if suffering from sickness or disease. However, an otherwise healthy elderly person could suddenly start losing weight if he or she is being neglected or abused, so it's important to keep track of how this happens and how fast the weight is lost.
Obviously, a person who is being neglected may be dehydrated when not being given the proper amount of fluids. However, elderly people often struggle with dehydration even when being given excellent care, simply because they do not want to drink as much water.
3. Behavioral changes.
Neglect and abuse can cause massive shifts in a person's behavior, and it can make the person feel depressed. However, things like Alzheimer's disease can lead to the exact same changes.
4. Decreased social skills.
A person who is being abused may not have many interactions with staff members who ignore him or her. This is a type of social abuse, and it could be made worse if the person is forgotten in a room and never allowed to socialize with other residents. However, some elderly people may naturally not want to socialize with the staff or other residents, perhaps unhappy that they have to live in a nursing home at all.
As you can see, some of the signs and behaviors that go along with aging can also be indicators of neglect, and knowing the difference is not always easy. Family members must be sure to be attentive, and they also need to know their legal options when abuse is suspected in Pennsylvania.
Source: Nursing Home Abuse Guide, "Nursing Home Neglect," accessed June 10, 2016