How to tell if the nursing home is neglecting your parent

If your parent resides in a Texas nursing home, you likely worry about the level and quality of care (s)he receives there. Despite all the federal and state laws that protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect, elderly and ill patients nevertheless often receive substandard care.

Obviously, you cannot go to your parent’s nursing home every day to check up on him or her, but you should be on the lookout for signs of abuse or neglect each and every time you go there. Here are some red flags to watch for.

Personal care red flags

Nursing homes are notorious for patient falls. Sadly, upwards of 1,800 nursing home residents die each year from the injuries they suffer in a fall. Even nonfatal injuries can cause your parent to suffer such things as head trauma, broken bones, neck or back injuries, bruising and fear of falling again

If and when your parent falls, or you suspect that (s)he may have done so, it likely was because staff members did not provide the help and assistance needed when (s)he needed it. This is a common nursing home problem. If your parent is feeble and/or unsteady on his or her feet, nursing home personnel should provide assistance every time (s)he needs to walk to the bathroom, dining room, etc. If, however, no one comes to his or her aid when (s)he presses the buzzer or call light, eventually (s)he will attempt to get there on his or her own. This is precisely when (s)he is the most likely to fall.

Always check your parent’s appearance each time you visit. If (s)he exhibits any of the following, the nursing home is neglecting him or her:

  • Inadequate or inappropriate clothing
  • Mouth or body odor
  • Disheveled hair
  • Overgrown fingernails or toenails
  • Bedsores
  • Other signs of poor personal hygiene

Facility red flags

Some nursing homes have inadequate staff to appropriately care for their patients. Others fail to properly train their employees. Any of the following can be a red flag that your parent’s nursing home may be guilty of neglect:

  • Caregivers who appear rushed or frantic
  • Phones that ring too often and call lights that stay on too long
  • Unfamiliar employees every time you visit
  • People who refuse to answer your questions adequately and fully
  • Your parent’s complaints about one or more specific caregivers
  • Any signs of uncleanliness

Remember, your parent is not necessarily in the best position to assess the nursing home. (S)he is, after all, a patient. You, on the other hand, are an objective, responsible adult who needs to be your parent’s watchdog when it comes to the treatment (s)he receives or does not receive as the case may be. Your visits should be far more than “just” an opportunity to see the parent you love. You also should be observant and vigilant with regard to any sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.


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