Many people who have loved ones who live in nursing home facilities like to believe that staff members are well equipped and trained to take care of the elderly in a way that is not only proper but also caring. While this is oftentimes the case, and elderly individuals are well-tended to in nursing home facilities, there are – unfortunately – situations in which the opposite occurs. In fact, neglect and abuse are common problems.
Furthermore, with a growing number of Americans (by 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20% of the total U.S. population) having to commit a loved one or loved ones to a nursing home facility, the number of victims who will experience abuse or neglect will increase. This sort of treatment is never justified. That said, family members need to be vigilant and thus on the look-out for abuse and neglect. But what exactly is elder abuse and neglect?
Elder abuse and neglect includes the following:
– physical and emotional abuse, which includes threats – sexual abuse -financial control or manipulation – failure to properly care for the elderly individual, which can also include abandonment
If these things are occurring, there are ways to detect such treatment. In addition, if your loved one has dementia, a mental illness, or is isolated for whatever reason, their chances of being abused or neglected increase precipitously.
Here are five tips that can help you detect either elder abuse or neglect:
1. Look for physical signs of abuse – bruises, burns, lacerations, etc.
2. Keep an eye out for poor hygiene, spreading of bed sores, etc.
3. Make note if your loved one’s medical needs are being ignored or not being tended to appropriately (for instance, is she receiving her medication, i.e., are staff members giving her appropriate doses or doses at all? Is she being taken to doctor’s appointments if that is part of her care schedule?)
4. Keep track of financial expenditures – if there is a sudden or dramatic change in your loved one’s spending behaviors, do research and investigate the possible reasons for why this has occurred.
5. Your loved one has begun to act out and is arguing more with you or other loved ones; conversely, your loved one has withdrawn and is emotionally distant. In a word, be on the look out for behavioral changes that seem out of character – check in with your loved one, ask questions in a loving, non-judgmental way to find out if something has changed in a way that might be causing them distress.
If you have determined that your loved one is being abused or neglected, it is important that you document the evidence and seek legal counsel. It is also important that you do not make light of the situation, downplay it, or ignore it. Such situations can oftentimes escalate or worsen and your loved one’s safety can be jeopardized further. In a worst case scenario, your loved one’s life could be in danger. These are generally situations in which time is not working in your favor, which means that legal action is the best way to respond.
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