During the recent holidays season, many people visited older friends or family members that they don’t get to see very often during the rest of the year. In some cases, it may have become apparent that assisted-living or long-term nursing home care is going to be required this year and beyond.
If your loved one is already in a nursing home, then your focus should be on watching for any possible signs of nursing home neglect or abuse.
The elderly in the United States are in a vulnerable position, especially if they have begun to suffer from dementia or other medical problems and can no longer speak out for their own interests. It is up to their loved ones to protect them and our nursing home neglect attorneys urge you to pay a extra attention.
The Dangers of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse has become a major problem throughout the United States. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is often under reported and so it is impossible to get an accurate account of just how many older adults are victims. The National Center on Elder Abuse, however, estimates that anywhere between 1 million and 2 million adults above the age of 65 are being subject to physical, financial, emotional, sexual or verbal abuse or neglect.
This abuse can have very serious consequences. In fact, according to The Senior Journal, a senior who is subject to either physical abuse or mental abuse is three times as likely to pass away within a three-year period as an elderly person who is not the victim of any type of abuse.
Spotting Signs of Abuse
Nursing home abuse often goes on because there is no one to stop it or to speak up for the rights of people who can no longer speak up for their own interests. When you visit relatives in a nursing home, be mindful of any possible indications that abuse is occurring. The National Center on Elder Abuse offers some key tips for spotting signs of abuse including:
- Unexplained bruising, cuts or other injuries
- Burns, especially cigarette burns
- Bed sores or pressure ulcers
- An unclean living environment
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Unusual behavior or unexpected changes in behavior including depression
- An unexplained sexually transmitted disease or bruising/signs of injury in the genital area
- Unusual financial transactions
If you see any indication that abuse or neglect is occurring, do not hesitate to take action. Different state agencies will respond to complaints where you live.
In North Carolina, for example, the North Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates nursing home complaints as does the Division of Health Service Regulation. Adult Protective Services can also help in cases of suspected abuse or neglect.
Choosing a Nursing Home
Spotting signs of abuse is essential to protecting your loved ones, but it is far better if abuse never occurs in the first place. While there are never any guarantees, the more research you do into a nursing home, the better your chances of a good experience. The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services provides some tips on choosing a good nursing home or adult care home.
According to their tips, you should:
- Determine the extent of assistance needed and what type of lifestyle environment is appropriate for the senior.
- Seek referrals for a good nursing home or care facility. The North Carolina Ombudsman Program can provide referrals, as can friends, acquaintances, your family doctor and religious organizations you may be part of.
- Contact facilities you are considering and ask if they have vacancies, what type of care they offer, what the admission requirements are, what their residents are like and whether they are Medicare certified.
- Check with the Division of Health Service Regulation to find out if the facility you are considering has any record of complaints.
- Visit the facility several times in order to get a good idea of what the home is like. Pay attention to the environment as well as to how residents are treated.
- Meet with the administration and ask key questions on issues including restraint use and the staff to resident ratio.
- Read the nursing home contract carefully when you’ve selected your nursing home.
Following these steps can help you to make sure your loved one is in good hands if it becomes necessary to enter into a home. Be sure to watch for signs over the holidays that the elderly relatives you care about may be struggling and need assistance or even full-time care.
If you or a loved one has been injured by nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. *No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid.
*Fees are a percentage of recovery – Case costs are additional
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