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Personal hygiene issues are a red flag for nursing home neglect

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Nursing Home Negligence |

Most older adults have long maintained their own hygiene habits. However, they may begin to struggle to shower or shave as they develop issues with fine motor skills or balance later in life.

Older adults living in nursing homes and similar medical facilities often require the support of caregivers for basic daily hygiene and the maintenance of their living space. Older adults may need assistance showering and getting dressed. They may need reminders to brush their teeth in some cases.

Serious issues with personal hygiene can be a red flag of potential neglect at a nursing home.

What should families look for?

Some hygiene matters may change as people grow older. They may be more inclined to have noticeable body odor or may prefer to go longer between shaves because of how sensitive their skin has become. However, if the support provided by workers at the care facility does not allow someone to maintain a comfortable level of personal cleanliness, that could be a reason for concern.

Disheveled or matted hair could be an indicator that residents have not received adequate support in taking care of themselves. Strong body odors indicating that someone has gone multiple days without a shower could also be cause for concern.

Residents sitting in soiled garments, especially if they require disposable underclothes due to incontinence, could also be an indicator of neglect in a nursing home. Cases of infections and infestations, like bed bugs that spread rapidly between resident rooms, can also be a warning sign that hygiene practices are lacking at a facility.

How can families help?

Using mobile phones to take photos or record video of the state of someone’s body or the room in which they stay can help establish that professionals working there did not adequately meet their needs. The more documentation there is of multiple occurrences of unmet hygiene needs, the greater the likelihood that someone has not received adequate support on a day-to-day basis.

Particularly when a lack of cleanliness may have contributed to someone contracting an illness or an infestation, like scabies, family members may have reason to take legal action. Pursuing a lawsuit against a nursing home can cover the expenses of paying for the consequences created by negligent care. A successful lawsuit might also force a facility to change its practices and make adequate resident support more of a priority.