Understanding Neglect is a Form of Abuse in Arizona Nursing Homes

Elder abuse comes in many forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) elder abuse involves either an intentional act or a failure to act by a caregiver or other person in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, creating or causing a risk of harm to an older adult.  According to the Arizona Adult Protective Services Act (APSA), elder abuse involves either an intentional act or a negligent act or failure to act that causes harm in a vulnerable adult.  (The CDC defines “older adult” as a person aged 60 years or older and the APSA defines “vulnerable adult” as a person over age 18 unable to protect themselves from harm.)  Arizona nursing home abuse, consistent with the CDC definition, includes the following types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse or financial exploitation as well as
  • Neglect

As more and more people need nursing home care, recognizing Arizona nursing home abuse is an essential component of stopping it in its tracks.

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Neglect as a Form of Arizona Nursing Home Abuse

Understanding and recognizing the warning signs of neglect is critical.  There are several different warning signs which may indicate neglect.

Poor Personal Hygiene

Many residents of nursing homes can no longer do for themselves what they once did.  They may need help showering, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, or even using the toilet.  Nursing homes should have documentation about when each resident last bathed.  Additionally, for those residents who require regular assistance using the bathroom, this should be documented.  If your loved one is suddenly in disposable briefs, or if your loved one has signs of a rash, this may be an indication their bathroom needs are not being regularly attended to.

Residents Remain in Bed

Loss of mobility is a very real problem for elderly residents of a nursing home.  A quality nursing home includes a program involving staff ensuring residents move about the home, get some exercise, and remain active.  This maintains and builds muscle tone, circulation, strength, and increases balance.  A resident confined to their bed, who do not leave their room, should be cause for alarm.


Residents who have lost mobility or are limited in their mobility due to an injury, are required to be turned and repositioned regularly.  Turning and repositioning are required for anyone unable to reposition themselves, whether in bed or in a wheelchair.  The failure to properly turn and reposition a resident is a form of neglect and can cause skin breakdown and bedsores.  If bedsores are allowed to develop and are not properly treated, they can become life-threatening wounds and can become infected.

Physical Issues Due to Dehydration

Failing to make sure residents are properly hydrated is a form of neglect.  Recognize the signs of dehydration, which include lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, dizziness, persistent fatigue, nausea, confusion, increased heart rate, forgetfulness, and rapid breathing.  Because many people assume these symptoms are related to old age, the signs of dehydration may be missed.  The nursing home should have documentation of your loved one’s fluid intake.  Don’t hesitate to ask for this if you are concerned about dehydration.

Bruising and Broken Bones

Many people naturally associate bruising and broken bones with physical abuse – and that may be the case.  However, bruising and broken bones also occur when a resident attempts to get out of bed or move about on their own when they should be assisted by nursing home staff.  When your loved one sustains an injury, ask questions about who was present, what was observed, and what steps, if any, the nursing home is taking to prevent such injuries in the future.

If You Believe a Loved One is a Victim of Arizona Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe a loved one is a victim of Arizona nursing home abuse, contact the nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Miller Kory Rowe LLP.  Our skilled attorneys are familiar with both the legal and ethical obligations nursing homes have in the state of Arizona.  Our lawyers meet for consultations at no charge.  Contact our attorneys to discuss your loved one’s situation today at (602) 461-8640.

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