When loved ones can no longer care for themselves, New Mexico residents have to make tough decisions. Providing that care personally or through an in-home service is often not affordable or feasible. This leaves only one option for many: a facility for long-term care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a reality, and family members need to take steps to prevent it and recognize the signs.

In one case of abuse, employees of a nursing home for dementia and memory care patients were making Snapchat videos of themselves mocking their clients. The emotional abuse was characterized as “disturbing” by police and ran completely counter to the facility’s mission statement. Inspections by the local health department had resulted in citations over previous years for failure to train employees per state standards. It was unclear whether these citations were available to the public prior to the investigation.

A dramatic case is sufficient to underscore that nursing home neglect, abuse and negligence are all possible threats to a patient’s well-being. Physical abuse and negligence can leave tell-tale signs, such as a worsened medical condition or bruises and sores. With emotional abuse, family members are advised to keep an eye on their loved ones for specific cognitive changes. These include the symptoms of anxiety and depression, such as loss of appetite or social withdrawal.

Nursing home facilities are not always what they appear to be. People would do well to watch for and follow up on potential signs of abuse in their loved ones. Abuse can take many forms, including failure to follow basic standards of care, and the damage may not always be obvious. Contacting an attorney with concerns may result in an investigation, cataloging of damages and collection of evidence pointing to nursing home neglect or other wrongdoing.