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How can I check for nursing home neglect?

Putting your parent in a nursing home has probably been one of the most difficult decisions you had to make. You may have particular concerns over how the home will treat your loved one. If you learn how nursing home neglect could show up, you may recognize problems in your parent’s care and take action to stop it.

Neglect in care takes different forms. You will want to look for more than one potential problem with how the home staff cares for your parent. Carepathways provides an overview of various signs of nursing home neglect.

Loss of weight

If your parent cannot get around easily, the home staff should be ready to assist your loved one to the dinner table or to deliver meals to your parent’s room. Unexplained weight loss may indicate your parent is not receiving enough food. Check for weight loss by looking at your parent’s calves and upper arms. In addition, consider asking the home staff to monitor the weight of your parent.


Dehydration can cause a number of serious health problems and may even lead to death. To look for signs that the staff is not giving your parent enough water, check your parent’s lips and mouth to see if they are dry. Pinch your parent’s forehead to create a crease. Watch to see if the crease fails to disappear quickly. Also look around your parent’s room for easily accessible sources of water.


Getting your parent in and out of bed regularly and shifting your parent in bed is essential to preventing bedsores. If the staff leaves your parent unattended, the constant pressure on the skin may develop a pressure sore. You can tell your parent has a bedsore by looking for areas of redness that stay red even after someone applies pressure to it. Bedsores may appear in places like shoulder blades, elbows, heels, or the tailbone area.

Toilet issues

If your loved one develops incontinence without a good reason, the staff is probably not helping your parent to the bathroom. If the home is putting your parent in adult diapers, be sure that the diapers are necessary and not for the ease of the staff. Also check your parent for conditions like rashes or urinary infections.

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