When we make the decision to put mom or dad in a nursing home, we believe that they’ll be in good care. We trust staff members to help our loved one with their daily routines, and ensure they’re comfortable and happy. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of their loved one experiencing neglect in a nursing home. But this is the harsh reality in some California care homes.

A recent study found that there have been over 500 cases of licensed senior care homes breaking minimum wage, overtime or record-keeping laws in California over the past decade. In one in five of those cases, the home operators were cited for health and safety violations that put residents at risk.

Although this information is alarming, there are ways you can help protect your loved one’s health and safety. One key way is by recognizing the signs of neglect, so that you can take immediate action. Some of the indicators of neglect may be subtle, while others can be very clear.

There are four main types of nursing home neglect. Each has different warning signs that you should look out for:

  • Medical neglect: This occurs when staff members fail to attend to your loved one’s medical needs, or fail to prevent injury or sickness. This type of neglect could result in bedsores, infections or mobility issues.
  • Neglecting basic needs: Your loved one should reside in a clean, safe environment with access to food and water. Weight loss, dehydration, fear of certain staff members and dirty living conditions could be indicators that these needs are not being met.
  • Neglecting hygiene: Your loved one should have clean clothes, brushed hair and proper dental care. They should also be getting regular baths. If this is not happening, they may smell, have greasy hair or wear dirty clothes.
  • Social or emotional neglect: This happens when staff members ignore residents, treat them unkindly or leave them alone for long periods of time. Signs could include your loved one feeling depressed, anxious or isolating themselves even further.

If you spot one of these warning signs in your loved one, it’s important not to panic. Ask your loved one about it, and express your concerns to the nursing home administrators. There could be a possible explanation.

If your suspicions continue, you should find a new home for mom or dad – and consider contacting an attorney who focuses on nursing home neglect. They can discuss the situation with you and guide your next steps.