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What is medical neglect?

Medical neglect is a term often connected with the lack of proper medical care for a child, but it can also apply to the mishandling of such care for the elderly. Ironically, help for the medical needs of a child must come from parents, while later in life it is often the children who must step in and see improvements made for the healthcare of their elderly parent.

Suspecting medical neglect at home

Many elderly people live alone and are comfortable residing in their own homes. A spouse may have died and grown children are now off raising families of their own. The senior may be used to being part of the community, but friends are beginning to see subtle signs of change. The man who lives around the corner, once an outgoing fellow, suddenly appears to be disinterested in life and frequently seems confused or disoriented. There is now a disheveled look about the woman next door, which strikes neighbors as odd because she used to be so particular about her appearance. In both cases, caregivers make house calls, and until now, the neighbors thought all was well. The first thought may be that these seniors are experiencing different stages of dementia. However, what neighbors observe may be signals that their elderly friends have encountered medical neglect.

Too much medication

When your elderly mother resides in a nursing home, you hope that she is receiving the best of care. But during your visits, you begin to notice changes in your mother's demeanor and attitude. She has always had a sunny disposition, but you find that she has become quieter and almost uncommunicative. She may seem lethargic or sleepy. When the nurse comes into the room, your mom might glare at her or become snappish when the nurse tries to talk to her. Clearly there is something amiss. You begin to expect that the nurse may be overmedicating your mother. Could this be the case?

Following up on unethical practices

In the world of senior healthcare, medical neglect may point to a patient being overmedicated by design, usually to keep him or her calm, quiet and "out of the way." If the fastidious person you once knew begins to appear unkempt, with soiled clothing and little attention paid to cleanliness and personal hygiene, this could also indicate lack of proper attention by caregivers. Fraudulent remedies may have been recommended for a medical condition that simply does not exist. There are, unfortunately, unethical doctors, nurses and nursing home personnel. If the signs of possible medical neglect begin adding up, it may be time for you to contact an attorney who is experienced with elder care and matters involving healthcare abuse and fraud.

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