Placing a loved one in a nursing home is a tough decision. On the one hand, there is the guilt associated with shipping a parent off to home. While on the other hand there are the realities of life – work, kids, and giving the full-time support many aging relatives need. Another thing to worry about is the quality of care your loved one will receive while staying in a nursing home. We have all heard the horror stories but if you have ever visited a nursing home you know that it can be hard to tell is something is amiss. Difficult, but not impossible and here is a quick guide on how to tell when a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect.
As mentioned incidents of nursing home neglect can be difficult to spot, but there are some warning signs. These include bedsores, bruises, dehydration, or dramatic changes in your loved ones’ mood or health.
Remember, nursing home neglect not only manifests itself physical but also emotionally. As such, you want to maintain close contact with your loved one especially when they first move into a nursing home. Daily phone calls, regular visits, maybe even a nanny cam – this way you can have an idea of how they are acclimating themselves to their new surroundings.
In addition, you will want to get to know the primary caregivers. Granted, they have their hands full dealing with several patients. But most caregivers really want the best for their patients and are open to having candid discussions with those entrusted with managing their loved ones’ affairs.
Not wanting to have these discussions or barring family members from talking to caregivers is warning sign that something might not be right. Don’t find out after your relative moves in, ask questions before deciding on a nursing home to ensure how you can communicate with those who will be caring for your loved one.
Most Abuse Goes Unreported
Even if the relationship is good and your loved one appears fine, you don’t want to assume that everything is fine. In fact, most elderly people fail to report being neglected in a nursing home because they feel embarrassed.
This is a natural reaction. Remember they have been ‘adults’ for a long time, so the idea of no longer being in control of their own lives’ can take some getting used to. One way to help ease the transition is to make them part of the process – at least to the extent, it is possible.
Make sure they understand what is happening and try to get their feedback on the choices which are on the table. In addition, most nursing homes offer a Patient’s Bill of Rights, so want to review this with your loved one to make sure they understand it and they are aware of when their rights are being infringed. This will go a long way to ensuring that nursing home neglect does not happen.
What About Alzheimer’s
This can be one of the hardest situations to spot nursing home neglect as in many cases the patients are unaware of their surroundings. Another symptom of nursing home neglect can be incidents of patients wandering around the halls or the grounds without any support. With Alzheimer’s patients, this can be easy to spot as the patients may appear to be in a confused state and are probably not dressed appropriately.
Another way to spot nursing home neglect with an Alzheimer patient are complaints from the staff. While Alzheimer’s patients can be extremely difficult to deal with, complaints about their behavior is probably an early sign that something is not right.
Maybe the staff is not properly trained to deal with Alzheimer’s patients or maybe they are understaffed. Either way, the quality of care is bound to suffer and this will lead to increased potential for nursing home neglect.
What Can Be Done
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is a real thing and you need to be mindful that this could happen to your loved one. While looking out for the warning signs of such neglect will help, the most important way to ensure it does not happen is to be proactive. Get to know the staff at your nursing home. Also, get to know the family members of your loved ones’ neighbors as strength in numbers is a great way to make sure relative is being properly cared for.