Entrusting an elderly loved one to a nursing home or care facility can be a difficult decision. As a caregiver or relative, you want what’s best for your loved one, but you may have heard horror stories about nursing home abuse.
Neglect, maltreatment, emotional abuse and even physical abuse can happen in any care facility. However, by following these steps, you can help reduce the risk that your loved one will become a victim.
- Evaluate the risk. Elders who are physically or mentally vulnerable have a greater risk of becoming victims of abuse. Does your loved one suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s? Is he or she bedridden? Does your loved one struggle with aggressive or challenging behaviors due to an underlying illness? If so, you may need to be even more vigilant about the risk of abuse.
- Choose a nursing home carefully. Invest the time to make sure it’s a good fit. Dig deeper and ask questions to get a full picture of the nursing home. Is the facility adequately staffed? Does it carefully vet caregivers and other employees? Does it have a history of complaints or safety violations? Does it have an abuse prevention policy in place? The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one make the right decision.
- Understand the warning signs. Sadly, abuse and neglect often go undetected, especially when the victims are unable to voice their concerns. You may be in the best position to monitor your loved one and identify any red flags – before the neglect escalates.
- Keep in touch. Several studies have shown that nursing home residents with regular visitors were at less risk of abuse. Ongoing contact with your loved one – both in person and over the phone – will allow you to more readily identify any warning signs of abuse or neglect. Maintaining social interactions is also beneficial for your loved one.
If you ever suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, take action. A qualified attorney can help you protect your loved one from further harm.
Source: National Center on Elder Abuse, “Nursing Home Abuse Risk Prevention Profile and Checklist,” accessed May 22, 2015.