X

Find a Nursing Home

Click Here

3 Neglect

Recognizing Neglect in Illinois Nursing Homes

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Long-Term Care Facility Residents Reporting Act defines “neglect” as “the failure in a long-term care facility to provide adequate medical or personal care or maintenance, which failure results in physical or mental injury to a resident or in the deterioration of a resident’s physical or mental condition.”

Neglect is the most common form of mistreatment of Illinois nursing home residents, according to a report by the State’s Department of Public Health (IDPH). During a recent three-year span (2011 to 2013), the IDPH’s Central Registry received 3,833 complaints of alleged neglect in our state’s nursing homes, or an average of nearly 1,300 complaints per year.

“In a study that examined 2,000 interviews of nursing home residents, 95 percent reported that they had been neglected or witnessed the neglect of another resident”

In a study that examined 2,000 interviews of nursing home residents, 95 percent reported that they had been neglected or witnessed the neglect of another resident, according to a National Center on Elder Abuse research brief.

Due to fear or embarrassment, an elderly nursing home resident may be unwilling to report neglect to administrators, health and law enforcement officials or their family members. The resident may also suffer from a condition such as dementia that leaves him or her unable to report the neglect.

As one with a parent or other elderly relative in a nursing home, you can play a crucial role in recognizing and responding to neglect. When you visit your loved one, pay attention to these signs:

Signs of Medical Neglect

A nursing home may be failing to provide proper medical care for your loved one. For example, if your loved one is immobile, he or she should be routinely turned in bed or repositioned in a wheel chair. A nursing home’s failure to do so can result in bed sores. Other signs of medical neglect include:

  • Untreated cuts, wounds, sprains or fractures
  • Infections that go unaddressed
  • Medication-related health issues (due to the wrong medication type or dosage or the failure to administer medication according to schedule)
  • Delayed emergency medical treatment or diagnosis of a condition.

Signs of Hygiene Neglect

A nursing home must provide at least basic personal care and maintenance of its residents. Serious health issues can be caused by a nursing home’s failure to meet the basic hygiene needs of a nursing home resident or to provide a clean, sanitary environment. Signs of hygiene neglect include:

  • Bed sores (caused by a resident lying or sitting still for long periods without being moved or repositioned)
  • Staph infections
  • Dirty skin, beard growth, unwashed or unbrushed hair or neglected nails
  • Soiled sheets and mattresses
  • Unwashed clothing
  • Unchanged bed pans or undergarments
  • Dirty furniture, carpets or floors.

Nutritional Neglect

A nursing home must provide proper food, drink and nutrition, including meals that are suitable for a resident given his or her food allergies or special dietary needs. In some cases, assistance must be given to residents whose physical or mental disability prevents them from eating or drinking on their own. Nutritional neglect can lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Signs of nutritional neglect include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness (resulting in falls or fractures)
  • Weakened immune system (resulting in infections).

Emotional and Social Neglect

A nursing home resident can suffer harm due to the facility’s failure to allow personal contact, social interaction and companionship that a resident needs to maintain a healthy emotional well-being. Signs of emotional and social neglect include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Change in demeanor (moodiness)
  • Emotional distress
  • Self-destructive behavior.

Security Neglect

The failure of a nursing home to keep residents safe from harm inflicted by staff members, fellow residents or visitors to the facility is a serious issue. Due to a lack of property security, a nursing home resident – such as one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia – may wander into a dangerous situation within the facility or elope from the campus. Signs of security neglect include:

  • Lack of security guards, locks or monitoring equipment
  • Injuries from physical or sexual assault
  • Fractures or other injuries suffered in falls
  • Hypothermia or other illness caused by exposure.

If you have observed any of these signs of neglect when visiting your elderly parent or other relative in a nursing home, please see our section on “How to Report Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Illinois.”

Sources / More Information

Download PDF eBook

Enter your name and email address in order to download our A Family Guide to Safety in Illinois Nursing Homes eBook.

* indicates required
A Family Guide to Safety in Illinois Nursing Homes