When you trust a nursing home with the care of your loved one, you expect no harm will ever come to them. However, statistics state otherwise: yearly reports of more than 2 million cases of senior citizen abuse. In addition, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) stated that 60% of senior citizens are likely to face abuse, either by a family member or at a nursing home.
Despite the staggering number of abuse cases, elders are the least likely to report abuse incidents. Whether at a nursing facility or home, caregiver negligence can occur anywhere. This article sheds light on nine tips to prevent nursing home abuse.
- Visit regularly
As a relative or guardian, know that if you cannot look after your loved one, that doesn’t mean you don’t care for them or cannot prevent abuse. Try to visit them at the nursing home as much as you can. Showing up uninformed can prevent abuse and caregiver negligence. When you visit without prior notice, you can have a better look at how the staff at the nursing home is looking after your loved one. If you find any discrepancy in care or treatment, you can instantly report nursing home abuse and make sure your loved one doesn’t go through it again. You can report to the local authorities and file a lawsuit later.
- Take note of everything
Frequently visiting your loved one will also give an idea of their living and health condition – notice differences in their behavior or condition while you’re there. Check their medication and treatment plan, how they are being taken care of, and any injuries or bedsores. You should take notice of the room they are placed in, whether clean or tidy. Pay attention to the equipment your loved one is using, and check medicine for expiration date and storage conditions. Noticing the minor details will help in the long run if you file a lawsuit for caregiver negligence. The frequent visits and notes will help your attorney build a strong case.
- Notice physical injuries
Unfortunately, if your loved one has suffered abuse or negligence at the hands of their caregiver, look for physical marks. There would likely be bruises, injuries, or pressure marks on their bodies. Check their wrists, ankles, and neck for alarming signs. Any time your family member encounters a wound or broken bone, find out what happened to ensure it was not due to abuse.
- Stay in touch with the staff
Every time you visit, communicate with the staff at the nursing home. Examine their behavior towards your loved one and observe their attentiveness to your loved one’s needs and requests. Also, notice how up-to-date they are about your loved one’s treatment and care plan. Staying in touch with the staff at the nursing home will help them remain vigilant about their duty and care towards your family member.
- Check the nursing home’s license
Check the nursing home’s license before you place your loved one there. Though every nursing or caregiving facility must have an updated license, some nursing facilities operate without one. Therefore, look for the nursing home’s license whenever you visit your loved one. Check if they can provide you with a copy of the license or whether it is on display at the facility. Verifying the license is for the betterment and safety of your loved one.
- Research the Facility
Play your part in researching the nursing home. First, you have to make sure your loved one is taken care of—conduct thorough research on the facility’s administration. Meet with the doctors and understand the treatment process. It’s better to proactively research in case you notice any suspicious activity. Researching beforehand will also help you prepare for a caregiver lawsuit in case you file any.
- Keep your loved one active
Monitor how your loved one spends their time in the nursing home. Encourage the elder to engage in activities at the nursing facility. Many facilities try to instill community-oriented activities in the elders through various events and interventions. However, it’s easy for elders to become stressed or vulnerable to abuse and negligence if they are not active or engaging with others. Try to accompany them in activity sessions that require family members’ presence. Let them know you support and care for them.
- Stay in touch with your loved ones
Whether through in-person visits, or phone calls, try to stay in touch with your family member at the nursing facility. Ask questions about their treatment, care providers, overall experience, and day-to-day activities. Be attentive to what they say, and don’t question if something doesn’t sit right with you. Document everything that your loved one tells you. In case you have to file a lawsuit, such documentation can help.
- Keep an eye on the resident’s finances
Senior citizens are easy targets for financial theft or fraud. It can be a friend or family member who closely monitors your loved one’s finances. If your loved one has money or valuable items in the facility, check for them every time you visit. It is likely for elders to be exploited for money or valuable items.
While these tips help prevent caregiver negligence or nursing home abuse, they are insufficient to prevent abuse. You must stay vigilant of your loved one’s care and treatment at the facility. If you notice something odd, report it to the authorities as soon as possible. If you plan on filing a lawsuit for caregiver negligence, consult a legal advisor or attorney to help you build a strong case.
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