How to Protect Your Loved One from Nursing Home Abuse

Just turn on the TV or radio or read the news, and you’re likely to hear horrible stories about elder abuse permeating the airwaves. As early as 1996, it was reported that nearly 450,999 adults over the age of 60 experienced abuse or neglect in a domestic situation. Then, when you factor in self-neglect, this number jumps to over 550,000. To break it down even further, 10% of study participants experienced some form of elder abuse or neglect in the prior year. One study stipulates that one in 14 cases is only ever reported. So, what should you do if you suspect a loved one of being abused in an institutionalize setting? Here are some tips:

  1. Trust your instincts. If you feel as if your loved one is being abused or neglected, in many instances, they very well may be the case. Since you know your loved one, it is important to look for clues that something is amidst. For instance, if they may seem more depressed, or have unexplained bruises or injuries, broken bones, or a sudden change in alertness or happiness, then you have cause to be concerned. Always be on the lookout for changes in sociability, happiness, sleeping or eating habits.
  2. Ask those hard and sometimes embarrassing questions. Ask your loved one what is going on. Ask them these questions: How are things going? Is anyone bothering you? Are you worried about something? Do you feel happy and safe at this home? Has anyone ever pushed or hurt you? What happens when you push the help button? Does someone come immediately or do you have to wait for a long time? Do you like the people who work here? Is there anyone you dislike? Is your medication being properly administered? Do you ever miss a dosage? If so, why? Next, gauge their response and make sure they are being honest.
  3. Dig deeper with the staff. Keep your ears, nose and eyes open. Do a thorough check of the entire facility. You should be able to check in on your loved one any time you like. If you notice some funky odors or the smell of ammonia or urine, take heed. Listen to how the staff treats residents. For instance, do they seem rude or caring? Do they call them by the first or last names? Ask your loved ones’ caregivers some questions as well. For instance, does my loved one seem happy? How are her meals prepared? For instance, if she is a diabetic does she have low salt options available? How often is medication administered? What type of physical activities does she participant in? Does she seem lonely or sociable?
  4. Inspect the facility often. You and other family members and friends should visit the facility at random times. Everyone should be able to stop in as much as they want and their visits should be unscheduled and occur at random times of the day or night. Each time you visit, you should always be welcomed and your visits should never seem like a burden to the staff. When you get there, evaluate things carefully. Does the home seem clean? How are residents being treated? Does the home seem safe? How does the nursing staff handle upset or depressed residents? Do residents seem happy? Do they seem to be encouraged to interact with others? How often are they allowed to interact?
  5. Indicate your concerns and be available. Always make sure that the staff understands that your loved one is not alone. They should know that there are people who are about them and are looking out for your loved ones’ best interests. They should know that you are available and want to be involved in your loved ones’ care. You should be aware of the proper channels to ensure that your loved one is taken care of. You should know the head nurse and all staff members that care for your loved one, and they should know you. All staff members should be comfortable reaching out to you with issues and you should respond in a prompt manner. The nursing staff should be able to call you with any questions and concerns, and you should be able to do the same.

In conclusion, elder abuse is rampant but if you follow the above mentioned tips, you can ensure that your loved one is not a victim.