What You Should Know About the Increased Risk for Elder Abuse Around the Holidays

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on November 22, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

old man holding christmas ballsMany nursing homes have trouble staffing their facilities throughout the year due to the grueling hours and physical demands of the job. However, around the holiday season, this becomes even more of a challenge. When there is a reduction in the number of qualified staff members to care for the residents, the risk of neglect and abuse increases.

Our licensed Milwaukee nursing home abuse attorneys discuss some of the risk factors for abuse during the holiday season and what you can do to help protect your loved one and respond if he or she is mistreated.

Why the Holidays Pose a Greater Risk of Abuse

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to get together with family and celebrate the season. However, they can also cause a great deal of inconvenience and challenges for already understaffed long-term care homes, as well as a greater risk for abuse and neglect of residents.

Impact on Staffing Ratios

Nursing home caregivers may request time off to spend the holidays with their own family, so there may be less staff available to tend to the needs of the residents.

While temporary staff may be sent to the nursing home, these workers usually lack the necessary education and skill to provide adequate care to residents. Impatient or overburdened temporary staff members may be irritable or even intentionally abuse patients.

Even the temporary caregivers who are trying to be careful may be more apt to make errors that can negatively affect the health and wellbeing of patients.

Residents who need assistance to eat may become dehydrated, or even malnourished, if they do not receive the food and water they require.

Untrained workers may not understand the protocols at the facility and may give patients the wrong medication or may not adequately protect residents from causing harm to themselves or another resident.

Patients with mobility issues may attempt to care for themselves in the absence of staff members and end up suffering a fall in the process. Others may wait for help but develop bedsores because no one came by to move them to avoid the buildup of pressure.

Family members of many residents are either not living nearby or busy with the holiday season, so there may not be anyone around to notice signs that there is something wrong. 

How Can You Help Protect Your Loved One?

The best thing that you can do to protect your loved one is to visit often and watch for sudden, unusual changes or atypical behavior – such as suddenly becoming withdrawn. If there is a change in your loved one’s behavior, and you are concerned that he or she is being neglected or suffering abusive treatment, you should report your concerns immediately.

It is worth mentioning that abusive caretakers often target victims that rarely have visitors to reduce any risk of being caught.

Here are some of the most common signs of elder abuse or neglect:

    • Increase in falls
    • Presence of bedsores
    • Reports from the elder of feeling light-headed or abnormally fatigued
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Poor dental health
    • Inappropriate dress for the weather
    • Medication errors
    • Overmedication
    • Decline in personal hygiene
    • Unexplained physical injuries, such as broken bones, black eyes, bruises, strains or sprains
    • Unclean nursing home environment
    • Change in the elder’s personality, such as symptoms of depression, confusion or withdrawal
    • Intentional isolation of the elderly person
    • Lack of interest in socializing with others or participating in favorite hobbies

    If you spot any of these signs or symptoms, try to talk to your loved one. Then, make a report to the police or Adult Protective Services to create an official record and have the situation investigated.

    Contact an Attorney

    If you are concerned that your loved one is being abused or neglected at a long-term care home, it is important that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.

    The lawyers at PKSD are ready to assess your loved one’s situation and help you determine what steps to take next. We work on a “no recovery, no fee” basis, so we do not charge for our services unless we are able to secure compensation on your loved one’s behalf.

    Contact PKSD today to schedule your free consultation. 414-333-3333

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