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4 Common Signs of Neglect in Senior Living Facilities

4 minute read

By Heather Fishel

When you help a loved one move into a senior living facility, you have the best hopes for their future. Senior living facilities can help seniors battle loneliness, get daily help with challenging tasks, and find a new community of friends. And some facilities can even provide important medical and health assistance.

But unfortunately, many seniors don’t have positive experiences in senior living facilities. Instead, they become disappointed and frustrated by a lack of care. In some cases, things are even worse – senior residents experience neglect.

How can you tell if a senior living facility is neglecting its residents? Here are four common signs to look out for.

1. Poor Personal Hygiene

Nursing homes and senior communities of all kinds are expected to cover seniors’ basic needs, helping seniors care for themselves every day. Whether they need assistance getting dressed, brushing their teeth, or bathing, residents should get the help they need.

And if residents have poor hygiene, it’s a sign that the senior living facility isn’t covering these basic needs.

Seniors experience neglect when they’re left to struggle with basic everyday tasks. If residents are staying in their pajamas, or the same clothes for days; struggling to bathe; or aren’t fulfilling their hygiene needs on their own, the facility is neglecting them. The staff should be able to assist each resident in taking care of themselves.

2. Struggling Staff or High Staff Turnover

It’s important to visit a senior living facility to see its staff in action on an average day. The way the staff acts during the busiest hours of the day is a good indication of the care your loved one will get while living there.

And if you notice two specific patterns in the staff’s behavior, it could be a sign of neglect. 

If senior living facility staff are frantic, disorganized, or unable to answer your questions, it’s a bad sign. This chaos can mean the staff doesn’t work well together; it could also mean the staff is under-trained or overwhelmed. If staff members can’t locate leaders, have bad attitudes, or are standoffish with residents, the level of care likely isn’t good.

Additionally, you’ll want to look into how often staff members quit. Frequent turnover – or staff frequently quitting – means there’s a potential for many problems. It could mean there’s a high number of new, untrained staff, or that there’s inconsistent care. 

3. Unexplained Injuries or Physical Marks

If your loved one is already residing in a senior living facility, you’ll want to look for physical signs of neglect when visiting them. Seniors can be injured while under the care of staff at senior living facilities if the staff isn’t alert or attentive. And seniors often won’t tell mention this issue on their own.

Ask your loved one about any injuries, slips and falls, or unexpected medical issues. Are there bruises on their body? Do they have broken bones? Have they been having more slip-and-fall incidents, or have they been injuring themselves while trying to complete simple tasks?

These could be signs of neglect. If residents aren’t getting the help they need, they will attempt to do things on their own – and they can get hurt doing so. Actions like falling down while walking unassisted could mean that staff aren’t helping seniors when needed.

4. Noticeable Emotional Changes

While physical injuries and marks are visible signs of neglect, sometimes the most lasting signs are emotional and mental. Experiencing neglect can leave seniors fearful of their caregivers, reluctant to talk about the difficulties they’re experiencing, and even resentful, depressed, or angry.

If you notice clear emotional changes within your loved one, it could be a sign that they’re experiencing neglect. If they’re withdrawing from activities and friends, stop communicating, or are fearful of others, the senior living facility’s neglect could be the cause. They may not be getting the help and care – or even daily support – that they need and deserve.

Have You Experienced Neglect? A Lawsuit Could Help

Neglect in senior living facilities may not be a topic that’s commonly discussed. However, it’s far more common than you might think.

Just look to the recent legal cases and lawsuits that seniors and their loved ones have started bringing against nursing homes and other senior care facilities. More than 200 families have filed an unprecedented lawsuit against three of Canada’s biggest for-profit, long-term senior care chains – and it’s because seniors are experiencing terrible neglect at these facilities’ hands. And two more major nursing home companies, Extendicare and Leisureworld Senior Care Corporation, are being sued in class-action lawsuits for systemic negligence.

Neglect happens – but it doesn’t have to. With knowledge of common signs of neglect, you and your senior loved ones can spot neglect. You can look for signs of neglect before choosing a senior living facility, and be aware of what neglect looks like once one is chosen.

And if your loved ones do experience neglect, it’s important to get legal help. A lawyer can help you fight back against neglect. A lawyer can ensure protection for your loved one. 

You can search for a lawyer who’s experienced in fighting neglect and advocating for seniors’ needs online. Many lawyers even offer free consultations, which allow you to discuss your options as soon as possible, without paying anything at all. It’s possible to get help so neglect in senior living facilities doesn’t affect your loved ones any more.

GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock

Heather Fishel



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