How To Identify Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect – A Guide for Families

Often, families reluctantly have to place their loved ones in Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), in order to assure medical attention and every-day assistance that they are not able to provide for themselves. They expect, and are certainly entitled to, top quality care.

How do I select the best Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility for my loved one?

Evaluate your needs to determine which nursing home is best suited for your particular situation. For example, do you need a facility to care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s? Do you need dialysis machines, or, a specialized wound care center?

Ask your physician for referrals; and, speak to others such as family, friends and neighbors who have been through a similar situation.  Check to see what types of medical insurance they accept.  Our list of insurance terms may be helpful when reviewing their documentation.

Contact your state and ask for copies of published information, such as Nursing Home Guides and surveys.

What are the signs of Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse?

If you notice any of the following, your loved one may be the victim of abuse:

  • Any open wounds or cuts
  • Unexplained injuries such as broken bones, bruises, or welts
  • Reports of being slapped, pushed, shaken or beaten
  • Falls
  • Being physically restrained to the bed or chair
  • Over-medication causing lethargy or unresponsiveness
  • Weight Loss
  • Sudden slurred speech
  • Deprivation of food or water, for any amount of time
  • Emotional upset or agitation
  • Extremely withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Displaying unusual behavior such as sucking, biting or rocking
  • Displaying behavior that is: humiliating, insulting, frightening, threatening or ignoring towards family and friends
  • Wanting to be isolated from other people
  • Injuries requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization
proper care in a nursing home

What actions can you take if you find that your love one has been abused?

What do I do if I suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?

If you believe that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY! 

The first thing you should do is CALL 911. In some circumstances, call the police. Then, remove your family member from the facility. Take him or her to another nursing home; or, if urgent care is required, get them to a hospital.  You may also want to contact a personal injury attorney that can look at your loved ones case.  In many instances, nursing homes can be held responsible if they are found guilty of abuse of the people they have been paid to protect and take care of. In the worst of cases, you may have a wrongful death lawsuit.  In many instances, the worst offenders do not make any workplace changes until they are hit in the pocketbook.

How do I ensure my loved one is receiving high quality care?

The most important part of ensuring care is to remain involved in your family member’s life. Monitoring and observing changes in their condition is essential to ensuring they are being cared for properly.

What do I look for when checking up on my loved one?

Diet: Make sure that your family member is drinking enough water and eating well. Because nursing home CNA charting can be inaccurate, be sure to visit at mealtime to check the food, and, see if your loved one is eating. Malnutrition and dehydration can cause life threatening diseases including urinary track infections, kidney failure, and, skin breakdown that can lead to bedsores, dementia and a weakened immune system.

Weight loss: Watch closely for weight loss by your family member. Do not rely on the nursing home’s stated weight, because they may try to hide weight loss. A good place to check for weight loss is the upper arm and calves.

Dehydration: To check for dehydration, you should look at skin tone and dryness in the mouth and lips, along with pinching the skin on the forehead or the sternum. If the skin sticks together and leaves a ridge, there could be a dehydration problem.

Bedsores: If your family member is immobilized in bed or in a wheel chair, they are at risk for bedsores. On visits, ask them if they have any cuts or wounds. If they are unable to answer, be sure to check their entire body on every visit. Without proper prevention and care, bedsores can appear overnight. Common areas for bedsores are on the heels, hips and buttocks. If a bedsore is allowed to develop, it will cause serious illness .. and, even death .. to your loved one.

Toilette Use: If your family member needs assistance to use the toilet, a facility with insufficient staffing will have the motivation to put him or her in diapers, because it is less work. As a consequence, it will be very difficult to become self-regulating. This will be used as an excuse to keep your loved one in the nursing home, instead of an Assisted Living Facility (ALF).

Insist that your family member is taken to the toilet regularly. If he or she is starting to have accidents, complain that it is because the call light is not being answered, rather than it being an incontinence problem. Ask your family member, frequently, if he or she has any symptoms, such as burning urination, and dark, cloudy or foul smelling urine.

Confusion/ Dementia: If your family member starts showing signs of confusion and/or dementia after entering the nursing home, these symptoms are not just part of normal aging. They are, usually, caused by some type of disease; or, they can be triggered by malnutrition or dehydration. Insist that the facility and the doctor run blood tests to rule out disease, malnutrition and dehydration.

Rehabilitation & Exercise: Make sure that the facility is following through with any rehabilitation they have promised. Occasionally, you or someone else needs to be there while your family member is doing his or her exercises, in order to see if they are being effective.

Bathing & Cleanliness: Make sure that your loved one is fully bathed, at least three times a week. Your family member should not have any body odor or scaling skin. Check for proper nail and dental care.

Unfortunately, abuse or neglect is not uncommon in poorly run nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  It is very important to look for the warning signs.  In many instances, you may find out the a particular facility has been reported habitually for mistreating their patients.  Pay close attention and take action if necessary.

Benzos Use On The Rise


According to, benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos” were first introduced to the medical community to replace the highly addictive and dangerous drug class known as barbiturates. However, according to the same website, from 1998 to 2008, addiction treatment admissions involving benzodiazepine abuse nearly tripled, reflecting the addictive potential that benzodiazepines also present.

What Are Benzos? describes benzodiazepines as medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain and/or central nervous system, resulting in sedation. Seizures, anxiety, and other diseases may require benzodiazepine treatment because these conditions are believed to be caused by excessive activity of the nerves within the brain, according to the website.

Effects of Benzodiazepines

benzodiazepinesBenzodiazepines are believed to enhance the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which acts as a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of these nerves, therefore, enhancing the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine reduces brain activity in general. MedicineNet cites common medically prescribed uses that may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Panic disorders
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Sleeplessness
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Status epilepticus (A life-threatening disorder of the brain.)
  • Premenstrual syndrome

Many people may be more familiar with some of the names of these prescriptions, which include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Librium, to name a few. lists many more uses for the prescribed medications, to include:

  • Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome
  • Cervical Dystonia
  • Chronic Myofascial Pain
  • Cluster-Tic Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Dysautonomia
  • Endoscopy or Radiology Premedication

The list goes on.

Benzos and Addiction

benzo pillsWith such varied and common uses, risks of abuse, addiction, withdrawal (as listed above), recreational use and overdose are undeniably something many of us are probably more than familiar with. Whether it be friends, family, schoolmates, or children, drug addiction is on the rise. states simply, “When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use turns into abuse.” Additionally, although more than 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been produced, says WebMD; only about 15 are currently FDA-approved in the United States. They are usually classified only by how long the effects last.

WebMD also warns that:

“Benzodiazepines have also been used as a ‘date rape’ drug because they can markedly impair and even abolish functions that normally allow a person to resist or even want to resist sexual aggression or assault. In recent years, the detection and conviction of people involved in this has increased dramatically. The drug is usually added to alcohol-containing drinks or even soft drinks in powder or liquid forms and can be hard to taste.”


Benzo Use On Police Radar


Evidence of the ease of accessibility also grows in the public eye as St John Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana broke a case involving a “million dollar Xanax ring” in 2016, arresting a total of 11 suspects. Officers executed a search warrant around 1:16 p.m. in the 100 block of Oak Fern Court in LaPlace, Louisiana, where detectives found approximately 100,000 Xanax pills, flakka and the packaging for distribution. St John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre affirmed it is one of the largest drug crackdowns his office has ever been involved in. “If consumed with alcohol, it can have a lethal effect,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said of the drug. According to the story, the ring used a computer currency, called bit coins, to sell the drug nationwide, as confirmed by investigators of the case. The FBI was then called in to help out with the landmark drug seizure in St. John Parish. Federal and local authorities are also investigating the use of the digital currency used by the dealers.

Benzos and Overdose


Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

A fatal overdose of benzodiazepines alone is extremely rare, says However, it is estimated that approximately 80% of benzodiazepine abuse involves another substance, particularly opioids and alcohol abuse . According to the site, abusing benzodiazepines with other central nervous system depressants increases the risk of respiratory depression, coma, and death by accidental overdose.

Getting Treatment

Addiction and treatment specifically for benzodiazepines are unusual as they are generally mixed with other drugs.  Depending on the circumstances and other drugs included, inpatient or outpatient treatment may be needed.

If you, or someone you know is abusing benzos, it may be an indicator of a larger drug abuse problem where inpatient treatment is needed.  Contact a qualified rehabilitation center immediately even if you think someone you love may have a problem.

Don’t let money get in the way of seeking treatment!  There are many tips for save on insurance for rehab.

Treatment Information


benzo treatment

National Overdose Deaths—Number of Deaths from Benzodiazepines. The figure above is a bar chart showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines from 2002 to 2015.  The chart is overlaid by a line graph showing the number of deaths of females and males. From 2002 to 2015 there was a 4.3-fold increase in the total number of deaths, via National Institute on Drug Abuse.

According to SAMHSA, “HIV, AIDS, and viral hepatitis are important public health concerns for both patients and health professionals in SAMHSA-supported substance use disorder treatment programs. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) typically involves HIV and hepatitis antibody testing at admission, or a referral for antibody testing. The coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder is also common among people in MAT. It is important to note that combining medications used in MAT with anxiety treatment medications can be fatal. Types of anxiety treatment medications include derivatives of Benzodiazepine, such as Xanax or valium.”

Availability, alternate currencies, commonality, use in combination with other drugs and alcohol, as well as mental illness all contribute to the alarmingly high lethality rates associated with benzodiazepines.

Xanax Can Be More Addictive Than Herion



Causes and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Symptoms of substance abuse

Causes and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Addiction is a compulsive and chronic mental disorder that causes someone to habitually use a substance in an effort to achieve a desired outcome, usually a high. People can become addicted to many different things, usually because of the addictive nature of a substance. Nicotine, alcohol, sex, and drugs are the most common addictions in the United States.

The causes of addiction can vary, but usually stem from various risk factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Inadequacies in early childhood development, whether nutritional or mental;
  • Inconsistent or chaotic home environment;
  • Genetic factors, or a genetic tendency to be at risk for addiction/addictive personality traits;
  • Insufficient parental nurturing;
  • Insufficient socialization in childhood, and/or aggressive or shy behavior in adolescence;
  • Poor social coping and school performance;
  • Falling in with the wrong crowd; being around drug use and being accustomed to it.

addictionThough these factors do not guarantee a child will grow up to become an addict, they certainly make it easier to do. And those who do not grow up with any of these risk factors may also fall into addictions, typically as a coping method for something lacking in life, whether actual or perceived.

It is important to be aware of these risk factors, so as to guide children and adolescents away from the path of addiction. If you are afraid they may have already begun their way down that path, there are many various noticeable symptoms of substance abuse, including the following:

Friends and family may be among the first to recognize the signs of substance abuse. Early recognition increases chances for successful treatment. Signs to watch for include the following:

  • Feelings of depression or hopelessness;
  • Unusual aggressive or irritable behavior;
  • Declining grades or participation in social activities
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disappearing money or valuables
  • Paraphernalia such as baggies, small boxes, pipes, and rolling paper
  • Using addictive substances on a regular basis, pressuring others to use, or believing that the only way to have fun is to use these substances;
  • Lying about money or valuables, or how much/often the substance is used; getting defensive about the use;
  • Getting in trouble with the law, at school or work.

get help seek treatmentEarly recognition of the risk factors by friends and family can help increase the chance that a person will not fall into abuse of a substance and become addicted. Also, early recognition of symptoms of addiction can be a tremendous help in successful treatment and stopping of that addiction. The earlier that it is caught, the easier it will be to stop.

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Types of Rehab Centers

addiction centers

Types of Drug Rehabs and Detox Centers

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to receive professional help to being the road to recovery. Unfortunately, there is no one type of rehab center for everyone—different styles and methods help different people, and then can only be successful if the person truly wants to help themselves.

In order to best choose why types of programs might work best for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • What substance(s) are you addicted to?
  • How long have you been addicted?
  • What type of budget do you have for various programs?

It is always best, and easiest, to start your recovery with a backbone of friends and family supporting you. Those who have a great support system waiting to help them after treatment are most likely to have successful treatment and stay clean. Someone who has no one to support them is more likely to fall back into their addictions once treatment is completed.

There are many various popular rehab and treatment options.

Here are three of the most popular methods of beating your addictions:

Long-term rehabilitation programs:

Sometimes called inpatient drug rehabs, this program is where the person with an addiction checks in to live in a residence or recovery center, usually starting for 60 days or more. Long term rehab is usually the most comprehensive treatment, as you can fully detox while addressing the medical and mental issues of your addictions and withdrawals. This type of rehab is usually recommended for people who have struggled with addictions for a long time.  Maker sure that you have a medical insurance plan that includes rehab.

Outpatient rehabilitation programs:

These are rehab programs where the person with an addiction still lives at home, but actively attends sessions at an outpatient center. This type of rehab is good for people who still need to work or take care of family/children. These programs are usually best for those who have had short-term addictions, and it is easier to relapse as you are free to be out in the world.

Holistic recovery:

Holistic drug rehab programs usually are inpatient programs that use alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, acupressure and more. Whole body wellness and nutrition is the focus, and has been highly effective long term.

Whether you have just recently found yourself with the symptoms of addiction, or you have struggled with your addictions for a long time, there are many different types of programs out there to help in the path to recovery.


10 Tips To Save On Rehab Insurance

Tips For Saving on Rehab Insurance

Americans shopping for their own rehab insurance can substantially cut premiums by following 10 simple steps, according to leading insurers.

Comparison shop

You can save money by comparison shopping and exploring various options such as higher deductibles. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium. Comparison shopping also allows you to determine the best cost-benefit value.
For example, many plans cap coverage for serious illness so premiums may be lower than one with a high cap. Always compare benefits, deductibles and premiums and if you have a preferred physician, make sure that he or she is a participant in your plan.

Active role in health care decisions

Take the time to build a good relationship with your doctor and participate actively in your care. Every test and drug has some risk involved, and some tests may be defensive medicine. Ask what will happen if you choose not to take a drug or have a test. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives that are less risky and costly.

Avoid hospitalization whenever possible

Over half of all health care costs are for inpatient care. Consider outpatient services or same day surgery as alternatives to hospitalization. Today there are more and better alternatives to inpatient rehab; always do your research.

Understand health risks

Good lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and consumption of vegetables and fruits, have proven to make a huge positive difference on health even when started in older years. Choices such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and poor nutrition contribute to a higher risk for health problems.

Contribute to employer sponsored healthcare savings account (HSA)

Health Savings Accounts are tax-protected accounts of up to $10,000 annually that can cover everything from the cost of band-aids to co-payments on doctor visits. HSA’s can be established by employers that only offer high-deductible healthcare insurance ($1,000 and over). HSA legislation went into effect last year and more employers are expected to set these up as a way to decrease insurance costs and offer a tax benefit for their employees.

Know what your medical benefits cover

Carefully study the medical benefits of various plans and always compare before you purchase. If you have a managed care plan, know about the plan’s grievance procedure and use it if you don’t feel you are getting adequate care. – do not be afraid to ask questions


Check your rehabilitation center bills carefully

Billing errors are a common occurrence. Notify your rehab center and health plan promptly when errors are found.