When you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, you expect that they’ll be well taken care of. After all, that’s why they’re there, to have the assistance and medical care that they need to live comfortably. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are over 1 million senior citizens in the U.S. living in long-term care facilities. Sadly, nursing home abuse and neglect are not uncommon. Here’s what to do if you suspect your loved one is being abused in their nursing home:
Look for Red Flags
There are some important red flags to be on the lookout for when visiting your loved one. The facility should be clean, sanitary, and safe. From the common areas to the bedrooms and bathrooms, nursing homes should maintain a high standard to ensure a healthy and safe environment for residents. If it’s dirty, unkempt, and unsanitary, those are signs of declining care.
Observe your loved one for any changes in their physical appearance. If they begin to look malnourished, or have visible bruises, they could be dehydrated or underfed. Also, take note of their mobility and movement. While many seniors suffer from decreased mobility, a sudden or rapid change could be cause for concern. It may be an indication that they’re not getting enough exercise or time moving about.
Speak with Staff
Don’t be afraid to speak with the staff members if you have concerns or questions. Remain calm, and allow the staff the opportunity to explain and answer your questions. They should be open, honest, and kind. A hostile attitude could be an indication that something is not quite right.
Talk with Your Loved One
Talk privately with your loved one, and ask them if they feel safe and well cared for. Hopefully, they will feel comfortable enough to confide in you and share their experiences and thoughts. Do keep in mind that if they are being abused, they may be fearful and reluctant to speak up.
Once you suspect abuse or mistreatment may be occurring, you should start documenting things. Take notes when you speak with your loved one and other residents. Jot down the names of nurses and staff members that you interact with. If anything seems off or unusual, make note of it, and include the date. This information could prove to be important down the line.
Contact the Authorities
If your loved one confides in you that they have been mistreated, or if you see clear signs of harm, contact the authorities. You do not want to leave a vulnerable senior in harm’s way. The police can document the incident and intervene when necessary.
Contact a Lawyer
Finally, know that your loved one has rights and they do have protections under the law. Don’t wait to contact a lawyer to discuss the situation if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse. They’ll be able to help you understand those rights, and what to do going forward. You have to be an advocate your elderly loved one, so trust your instincts and take the steps to protect them from elder abuse. Contact the law offices of Mazow | McCullough, PC today.