If you’ve ever been faced with the decision of long-term, inpatient care for a parent or loved one, you probably understand the stress and anxiety associated with these types of situations. Naturally, the children and family members of nursing home residents have concerns over issues like quality of care, safety, and the competency and compassion of staff members; and, considering that abuse is reported in one third of all elder care facilities in the United States, these concerns are not unfounded.
However, there are steps you can take in protecting your loved one from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Keep reading for tips on preventing, identifying and addressing the signs of abuse and neglect.
Spotting the Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Due diligence is necessary in identifying the signs of abuse or neglect. For example, when visiting your loved one in a long-term care facility, be sure to take the following points into consideration:
- Your loved one’s demeanor. Does your parent or loved one seem comfortable in their surroundings? Do they appear nervous or frightened, especially in the company of doctors, nurses or other staff members? Has your loved one ever appeared to be over-medicated?
- Signs of financial exploitation. Is there money or property missing or unaccounted for? Are your loved one’s bank accounts and bills in order?
- Your loved one’s appearance. Is your loved one clean and well-groomed? Have you ever noticed unexplained bruises, scrapes or abrasions? Are items like catheters and IV’s kept clean and changed often? Does your loved one suffer from bed sores or other wounds that could indicate neglect?
- The facility and staff. Is the facility in question kept clean and orderly? Are corridors and rooms well-lit, and kept free from debris and other hazards? Do all staff members seem competent and polite? Is the facility up-to-date on all safety guidelines? Are staff members licensed and certified?
Addressing Elder Care Abuse
If you do spot the signs of abuse or neglect, it’s important to document any information you might have. For example, you should take photos of any visible signs of abuse or neglect. This includes bruises, signs of poor hygiene, evidence of poor or unsafe living conditions, etc. If you perceive the signs of abuse to be severe or life-threatening, contact the police immediately. In cases of non-life-threatening injuries or neglect, take the following steps in addressing nursing home abuse:
- Voice your concerns with nursing home administrators. If your loved one is able, have them describe the abuse as thoroughly as possible. Be sure to document your contact with nursing home personnel; make a note of dates any meetings took place, the names and titles of all involved parties, steps taken in addressing your concerns, etc.
- Contact Adult Protective Services, or APS. In emergency situations, APS will assign a caseworker and begin an investigation within 24 hours of receiving your complaint.
- Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.Attorneys experienced in cases of elder care abuse can help you and your family receive the proper attention, care and compensation.
If you believe a loved one is experiencing mistreatment, act as quickly as possible in addressing the signs of abuse or neglect. With the tips listed here, you’re better-equipped to identify the signs of abuse, as well as take the proper steps in voicing your concerns and protecting the health and safety of your parent or loved one.