You just put your parent into a nursing home. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was the best one for them. It seems like a nice place with the sunlight coming through your parent’s room, and an attentive staff. However, you still want to be on the lookout for any signs of abuse and neglect. But how do you know what to look for?
Emotional and physical changes
You mom or dad’s well-being is already in a worrisome state --- that’s why you decided on a nursing home to begin with. But it’s important to look for any signs that their health may be declining unexpectedly or a negative change in their behavior. It may be a clue that the staff isn’t being attentive to their needs or treating them well at all. Those are factors that could lead to them being withdrawn and frustrated, and could lead to some of the following:
- Fearfulness of staff
- Loss of weight and/or appetite
- Unexplained mood changes
You should also look for signs of physical abuse as well. Such as:
- Mysterious bruises
- Pressure ulcers
- Tearing of the skin in usually not visible places
If you see these, it’s also important to remember that these are just clues of possible neglect, and not definite proof. It’s possible it’s part of the disease they have. But if you do suspect any kind of neglect or foul play, make sure you differentiate when you visit. This way you could check on how your mom or dad is doing at various times during the day and the staff won’t know when you’re coming in. And be sure to ask the staff to explain anything out of the ordinary.
Proper hygiene and medication
Hygiene and medication are integral to someone’s health, especially as they get older. So it’s important to make sure they’re being bathed enough and are receiving the proper dosage of their medication. Some staff members will give too much medication, which could lead your parent to fall asleep, be overly sedated and miss meals. Staying in bed too long can also lead to bed sores.
It’s also wise to learn about the nursing home’s care procedures. Many care facilities have a policy to bathe their residents only once a week, but for many it’s often not enough. Make sure you let staff know about your parent’s needs, including the basics like hygiene. These are things your parent may not be in a capacity to communicate to the staff.
What is the atmosphere like?
Do you see attendants visiting with your parent and other residents? Or does it look like everyone rushing to attend to all of the residents’ needs? This could be a sign of chaos, poor management and an environment that leads to neglect. Look at the leadership, too. Are they also helping with residents or does it look like they stay behind closed doors except for special occasions, such as a visit from the health department?
Your mom or dad is here because they need the help that you can’t provide for them. And since you can’t you’ve chosen the next best thing – a nursing home that you think will provide great care. But doing research before choosing a place is not enough. It is vital for you to watch for any wrongdoing after your parent moves in. After all, this is the place that could be their final home.
If something doesn’t feel right
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is more common than we might think. If you notice anything going on, there are people who can help. Consulting with an attorney experienced in the area of nursing home negligence is a good first step if you notice any red flags. No parent should ever have to be wronged by those who are supposed to take good care of them.