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Knowing the difference between neglect and abuse

It is not uncommon for family members to hear about nursing home negligence from friends, co-workers or news stories. When the abuse strikes closer to home, however, loved ones are often filled with a combination of anger and regret.

The good news for people like yourself is that there are signs of neglect and abuse that you can watch out for and even look for before you choose a nursing home. By being aware of the differences between abuse and neglect and taking time to get to know a facility before choosing it, you can prevent your loved one from being injured.

Abuse versus neglect: The differences to know

The primary difference between abuse and neglect is that abuse is always intentional. It doesn't have to be premeditated, but abuse involves inflicting harm on an elderly person knowingly. On the other hand, neglect is not necessarily intentional. For instance, a nurse might forget to watch a patient take their medications, and the patient might not take them at all. This could lead to a missed dose of vital medications and injury to the patient, but those injuries weren't intentional.

How can you recognize abuse?

Abuse comes in a few forms, like emotional, physical and financial. To recognize these signs of abuse, you may need to observe when your loved one is hurt more often than is normal or has less money than usual. Tracking expenses and making regular visits can cut down on the risk of these kinds of abuse.

Neglect, on the other hand, is easier to identify before you choose a nursing home. When you visit, you should stay for a while, get to know some residents and their families and note what you see, smell and hear. Do you see lights going unchecked when a patient calls? Do you smell urine or vomit for long periods of time? What about the food? Do patients receive it even when they can't make it to a cafeteria? Seeing the level of responsibility the nursing home has for its patients before choosing the home for your loved one is vital.

Remember, the information you collect before choosing a nursing home does matter. Patients placed in homes deserve good care, and a visit can help you feel more comfortable.

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