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Many families have a loved one that resides in a long term care facility such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  When a loved on resides in a long term care facility, family members should visit often and unannounced.  When visiting, family members should look for signs of abuse and neglect.  If you observe abuse or neglect when visiting a loved one, you need to report it.  Each state is required to have a long term care ombudsman to which complaints can be made.  In addition, complaints can be made to the agency that licenses the facility.

Here are the common signs of abuse & neglect:

1.  Unexplained bruises, welts, scratches or other injuries

2.  Broken bones or other serious injuries

3.  Swelling at the ankles and wrists often coupled with bruising

4.  Bed sores (a/k/a Pressure Sores or Decubitus Ulcers), particularly on the buttocks, heels, shoulders, or elbows

5.  Dehydration and/or Malnutrition

6.  Unexplained weightloss

7.  Changes in an loved one’s mental state that are not a symptom of their disease

8.  Isolation of your loved one from visitors

9.  Belittling, insulting, humiliation or threats by a caregiver

10.  Contracture which is when your loved one’s muscles have remained in one place so long they freeze or “contract” in a particular position

11.  Unclean surroundings such as floors, walls, doors, sinks, or toilets

12.  Filthy facility conditions

13.  Untreated wounds

14. Your loved one left in soiled clothing or undergarments

15.  Signs of facility infestations such as the presence of ants, roaches, maggots, or bed bugs

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a long term care facility, document the incidents.  Immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect to the state long term care ombudsman or agency that licenses the facility and to the facility administrator.  If you believe your loved one needs protection or legal action needs to be taken against a person or facility for the injuries, contact an attorney that specializes in dealing with abuse and neglect claims against long term care facilities.