Ageing Americans are a growing population. The 2010 Census revealed that 13% of the population is over 65 years of age, the largest ever. Challenges associated with caring for ageing relatives, unfortunately, often include neglect and abuse. Studies find that around 10% of the elderly experience some kind of abuse.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home or other elderly care center, the risk for elderly abuse is very real. How would you know whether they are being abused in some way? What can you do to prevent abuse? Take a look at how you can recognize and prevent nursing home abuse for your loved one.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse
Elderly abuse in nursing homes can be relatively easy to detect when you know what signs to watch out for. Neglect is one form of abuse, and can affect a patient both physically and emotionally. Here are some signs of neglect:
- Deteriorated personal hygiene. Watch for an unkept appearance like dirty hair, clothes, and fingernails.
- Malnutrition. Signs of a lack of adequate or nutritious food include baggy clothes from weight loss, unusual fatigue or lethargy, and dull hair and skin.
- Changes in mood or behavior. Your relative might act afraid of or reluctant to talk about caregivers or seem to suffer from depression.
- Constant withdrawal to bed or room. This could mean they are not receiving help getting around and socializing with others.
- Frequent falls or other injuries. These are signs your loved one is not receiving assistance moving around the facility. Bruised upper arms or unexplained injuries could be from physical abuse.
These warning signs of neglect should be red flags that abuse is likely.
Preventing Nursing Home Abuse
Fortunately, you can do things to prevent elderly abuse in a health care setting. Nursing home choice is a factor in determining whether abuse is occurring inside. Before you place a loved one in any residence, here are some things to look for.
Check Out the Physical Environment
You can get a good feel for a facility just by walking around. Look for happy, mobile residents that are able to move about freely and are not just left in front of a TV or in bed. Do you hear music playing? Do the common areas look like someplace you would like to live? Lighting should be adequate and inviting.
Be aware of the cleanliness of a facility. Do you smell any unpleasant odors indicating failure to keep things clean?
Inspect the Staff
You can check out the staff working a facility as well. Nurses who seem caring, friendly, and genuine are more likely to be invested in the overall health and well-being of their patients. Also, you should feel like it’s okay to show up anytime to visit. A staff with something to hide will tell you it’s not convenient to do so.
If your relative already resides in a nursing home, you can do things to make sure they are treated properly.
Ask your loved one questions about their routine and how they like other residents, meals, and staff.
Talk to the staff about your loved one. Inquire after their mood, medication, and activity level. Make sure they give you a phone number you can call day or night if you need to reach your relative.
Make a point to visit often to show your relative you love them. Visiting also gives you the opportunity to make a surprise inspection of the nursing home.
After watching for signs of abuse and doing all you can to prevent the possibility of abuse occurring, you may still suspect it is happening to someone you care about. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer for advice immediately. The experts at The Cochran Firm-Huntsville will help you figure out what should happen next.