Tips to prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect
Even after you’ve picked the right nursing home or residential care facility for your loved one, you must still take steps to prevent elder abuse and neglect. Here are some tips to do just that:
- Visit at different times of the day and on different days of the week if possible. Try not to develop a pattern where you visit on the same day at the same time. Staff will sometimes figure out this pattern. If they do, the staff will make sure any signs of potential abuse or neglect are hidden by the time you arrive. If you can’t visit often, call your loved on the telephone.
- Multiple family members should visit the resident. Frequent visitors to the nursing facility will show staff that family and friends are involved in the person’s care. This will show staff that any potential signs of abuse or neglect will be noticed. Multiple family members visiting at different times also avoids the pattern of visitation described above.
- Listen to your loved one. Are they making unusual complaints of pain? Are they complaining about other residents? Or staff who are mean or aggressive towards them? While some complaints may be innocent and nothing to worry about, trust your instincts. Any unusual complaints should be brought to staff’s attention. Then make sure your complaints are addressed to your satisfaction.
- Look for unusual wounds. These can be bruising in unusual locations (side of the face, lower back, upper arms, etc.) or open wounds that developed at the facility. These wounds should be investigated.
- Pay attention to sudden changes in behavior. Does your loved one appear overly-sedated? Lethargic? Scared? Agitated? If so, talk to your loved one about the problem. Ask staff about any new medications. Pay especially close attention if sedatives like Ativan are being used. Also ask if your loved one has had any disagreements or problems with other residents.
- Look for unexpected weight loss. This could be a sign of malnutrition or dehydration and must be addressed quickly.
- Hygiene should be carefully watched. Does the resident look dirty? Are clothes constantly soiled? Are bed sheets dirty? Does the resident’s hair look clean or oily and unwashed? Any possible hygiene issues should be brought to the nursing home staff’s attention immediately.
Placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home or residential care facility for the elderly is not an easy decision. The tips above will help give you peace of mind in knowing that your loved one is well taken care of.