Sudden Behavior Changes in Nursing Home Residents

Sudden behavior changes in nursing home residents can be a sign of serious issues, especially in residents who are mentally or physically impaired. When something out of the ordinary occurs, your loved one may act out or respond differently as a result of the changes in their life. 

Some potential reasons for sudden behavior changes can include:

  • Administration of a new medication
  • Changes in the living condition that are disliked by your loved one, such as a change in roommates or staffing that causes personality conflicts
  • Verbal threats against the resident
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Illegal restraint
  • Health conditions such as beginning dementia, stroke, TIA, or pain

Whenever sudden behavior changes are noted, you should pay close attention to what your loved one is trying to communication through his or her actions. Often, these behaviors are a sign that something is seriously wrong in your loved one’s life, and you may be the only person able to investigate and alleviate the condition for your loved one. 

Often, if brought up to the nursing home staff, your concerns will be dismissed to some trivial cause. However, you should listen to your instincts and pursue the issue until every source is investigated and the cause of your loved one’s distress is found. It is far too easy for health care personnel to dismiss sudden behavior changes in an attempt to placate a concerned family member. Placation does not lead to resolution of the distress your loved one feels. Keep in mind that if a more serious issue, such as abuse, is the root of your loved one’s sudden behavior changes, he or she may be threatened by the perpetrator to keep quiet. 

Residents at Risk for Sudden Behavior Changes

While all nursing home residents can be at risk for sudden behavior changes, some are more vulnerable. These include residents who suffer from disabilities that limit their ability to communicate, such as:

  • Stroke, CVA, and TIA
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Vascular disorders
  • Severe infections
  • HIV
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Mental illness
  • Mental retardation

Sudden behavior changes in a nursing home resident may be the only way the resident has to communicate that a problem is present. These behavior changes may be intentional, or they may be unintentional. When questioned, the resident may be confused as to what behavior changes you are referring to, or they may refuse to answer questions or try to cover up the fact that a problem exists. However, as your loved one’s advocate, you should press on and investigate the matter in a matter that disrupts your loved one’s happiness as little as possible. Causing more distress by intensely questioning your loved one will only complicate the matter, and the responses you receive when your loved one is under duress may be inaccurate. Begin with questioning the nurse on duty about any recent changes to your loved one’s care. If the matter is still resolved, speak with an alert resident who rooms with your loved one, or other family members who frequently visit other residents to see if they are experiencing similar behavior changes or have noticed anything out of the ordinary. You can also take the matter to the nursing home administrator or director of nursing. 

If you suspect there is a problem at a nursing home, call the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm. In addition to the criminal charges which may be brought against the perpetrators, you and your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages incurred. The lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm specialize in elder care law and will help ensure that the abuse does not continue and that your loved one receives adequate care. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.