If you’re acting as an advocate for a loved one, whether it be a spouse, parent, sibling, etc., who is in need of a nursing facility, it can be stressful and scary. Making big life changes for someone is never easy. With all of the horror stories splashed across the news lately, it can feel like there is no “right” nursing home. Luckily, there are plenty of perfectly good nursing homes with caring staff members. With a little patience and research, you’ll be able to find a place that is a great fit for your loved one.
Once you place a loved one in a nursing home, however, your job isn’t done. You should stay in tune with what is happening at the facility to make sure that it truly is a good long-term fit for your loved one. Unfortunately, what may have started out as a good fit could change if your loved one experiences elder abuse.
Below is some information about the various types of elder abuse as well as signs to be on the lookout for.
There are multiple kinds of abuse. Types of abuse may include:
Often times, individuals only think of the most obvious abuses, such as physically striking someone; however, there are all kinds of abuse. For instance, physical abuse may include chemical abuse, meaning that an individual is being given unnecessary medications to keep him or her subdued.
With that in mind, what are some signs to watch for? The Nursing Home Abuse Center warns individuals to take note of:
- Unusual bruising or bleeding: However, depending on your loved one’s physical condition, keep in mind that he or she may have actually fallen through no fault of the nursing home.
- Bed sores, especially large bed sores
- Poor hygiene: If your loved one hasn’t been bathed, smells of urine or feces, or generally seems very unkempt, this is a red flag.
- Sudden changes in weight that can’t be explained by illness or medication
- Sudden changes in behavior that can’t be easily explained, such as being withdrawn
- Unusual financial transactions
- Strange behavior by the staff: For example, if you go to visit your loved one and a staff member refuses to leave the room, this is not a good sign.
If you see any of these signs, what should you do? It’s easy and even understandable to immediately get emotional. After all, your loved one not getting the care he or she deserves is unacceptable. However, it’s important to be as calm and rational as possible in order to remedy the situation as soon as possible. AARP recommends that you take the following steps:
Step 1: Speak with the caretaker you believe to be involved. Try to remain calm rather than accusatory. Try to direct the conversation away from blaming someone and towards working together to find a solution.
Step 2: If your issues are not adequately addressed, go to management. Don’t wait too long to do this. When you go to management, be very specific about your concerns, such as dates and times of incidents (or when you noticed something).
Step 3: If you’re still hitting a brick wall, file a written complaint. When you file your complaint, inquire about the grievance policy and how long it will take you to hear back or get some type of resolution.
Step 4: If you aren’t satisfied with the facility’s resolution or if the problem persists, start reaching out to government agencies. There should be a department in your area where you can file a formal complaint (ex. Department of Health).
If the problem has resulted in serious harm to your loved one and the facility has not been responsive, you may even consider contacting an attorney to see what options are available to you and what steps can be taken to protect your loved one.