Just as a young adult takes great care in choosing a first home, so should those in their twilight years, as they consider a move into a nursing home, or a skilled nursing facilities. It is not a decision to take lightly; unlike a bad roommate or neighbor who lets the yard go to weeds, it can be much more challenging for the elderly to find a safe home.
How to Choose a Home
First impressions are important. Upon arrival, is the building and surrounding landscape well maintained or are plants overgrown and the parking lot cracked and worn? Inside, what is the condition of the lobby? Is it clean and inviting or shabby and in need of repair? If a business neglects its property, one can imagine how they may treat their residents.
You’ll likely be given a tour of the facilities and hopefully be allowed to speak with other residents and the workers who will be entrusted to care for you or your family member. If the person giving the tour does not permit you to speak with other residents or staff that should be a big red flag.
How Common is Nursing Home Abuse?
While most nursing homes are healthy, safe places that provide quality care, a recent Congressional study uncovered some alarming statistics. Nearly 1/3 of all nursing homes across the U.S. have had formal complaints filed against them for verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Neglect is also a form of physical abuse, especially when residents are dependent on staff for everything from vital medications to basic hygiene.
Signs of Abuse
Unfortunately, residents can’t always speak out against their abuser, or are afraid of retribution if they do. Abusive workers know they may be subject to civil and criminal penalties and will often scare their victims into silence. The only way to stop them is to speak up for yourself or a family member if they are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, some signs of abuse may include:
- Behavioral changes, like depression or anger
- Impolite or argumentative staff members
- Poor hygiene
- Stains on clothes or bedding
- Bruises or mysterious injuries
- Staff refusing or delaying family from visiting
- Staff refusing to let visitors see family unsupervised
- Rapid weight loss (may be due to valid medical condition, or inedible food)
- Missed medications or over-medication
- Changes in finances (suggests a worker may be stealing from their accounts)
These are all indicators of abuse. It is also important to trust your instincts. Peace of mind is invaluable and if a nursing home feels unsafe or unwelcoming, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere. The comfort and security of you or your family member depends on the right choice.
If you or a family member have been abused or neglected by nursing home staff, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our office today. Our attorneys have experience discreetly handling cases involving nursing home abuse and offer a free consultation to help you determine your best plan of action.