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What to Look For When Choosing a Nursing Home for Your Loved Ones

Steve Wagner

Elders Need Family Advocates to Protect Them Against Abuse and Neglect

Although the thought of it is highly disturbing, abuse and neglect of the elderly in nursing homes or assisted living centers occurs all too frequently. In addition, let’s just be straightforward. Indiana’s long-term care is ranked as worst in the nation by AARP. This has happened due to understaffing, inadequate training, over-worked employees and/or overall negligent care. For those of us with elderly loved ones placed in these types of care residences, we may be planning a holiday visit or check-in with them this month. This is a good time to evaluate if they are still receiving the best care possible and ensure they are healthy, safe, and happy.

Recognize the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse and neglect can take many forms, but all of it is damaging in some way and can be present emotionally, physically, or financially. Sadly, physical abuse is still a major issue that can occur at a nursing home or long-term care facility and can be as extreme as assault and battery. This type of abuse most often includes forced physical restraints, or include the administration of pharmaceutical drugs not authorized by a doctor.

Emotional abuse and neglect also occurs and rides with insults, humiliation, threats, and attempts to frighten the resident. Residents can also be ignored, disregarded, and isolated against their will. Neglect occurrences are also reported and happen when a resident has been withheld basic needs like food, water, and medication as well as failure to change bedding or take care of hygiene or all medical equipment needs.

Abuse and neglect signs to look for include:

  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • open wounds, bed sores or cuts
  • burns and abrasions
  • sudden and unexplained change in weight
  • soiling, poor hygiene, smell of urine or feces
  • infections
  • loss of hair
  • torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding

Less obvious signs may be:

  • listlessness or unresponsiveness
  • infantile or other strange behaviors
  • physical or emotional withdrawal
  • disappearance of personal items
  • sudden and unusual financial transactions

There may be red flags if you arrive at a facility to visit a loved one during regular visiting hours and the staff refuses or delays access or refuses to leave the room during your visit. Use this as the first sign that someone is hiding something. If your loved one is presenting emotions out of sorts and doesn’t want you to leave, it is important to begin by listening to your family member and then asking questions and raising concerns with the management.

If you feel abuse and neglect are occurring, document everything with notes, photographs, or video if possible. It’s important to remember that while Indiana does allow the recording of private conversations, one party has to be aware of the recording. There are technically no laws prohibiting the use of surveillance videos in businesses, but Indiana does have extremely well-developed privacy laws. These laws often allow for large invasion of privacy lawsuits, on which there are no damage limitations. If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated, the safest option for you is to always check with the management of the facility first, before you install some kind of device. If you have their consent, it may save you a huge legal hassle down the road.

Regardless of what you choose to do, always notify the facility management and demand action. If necessary, remove your loved one immediately and report any wrongdoing to authorities. The very best option for you in protecting your loved ones is to do the leg work up front and put in some good research on the care facilities in your area.

Preparing to Move Your Loved One To a New Care Facility

If you need to place or move your loved one, it is always best for a care facility or nursing home to be located where family and friends can visit often. Statistically speaking, people in nursing homes who have regular visitors usually receive better care. No matter how rushed you may feel, don’t pick the first place especially if you have another bad feeling. Do your research and plan visits at more than one place. And, if possible, visit with your parent and other family members so you can make comparisons and everyone can share their thoughts. Before your visit, look at the online survey history of the nursing home to see what areas may be problematic and contact Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to find out more about the residence.

In addition, AARP says when touring a nursing home or long-term care facility, remember to:

  • Observe the activities offered to residents
  • Taste the food
  • Visit at least twice
  • Make one unscheduled stop on the weekend or evening when there may be staffing problems

Don’t forget to be open and straight forward in asking the staff what they are doing to improve the quality of care for residents in the care facility or nursing home. Talk to nursing staff to make sure the kind of care your loved one needs is provided.

Ask about things such as:

  • Transportation to medical appointments;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Staff with special training for dealing with your parent’s condition;
  • Special units, programs or services for special needs, such as dementia.

Although there is a new Indiana law on the books, House Bill 1493, that directs the state’s Division of Aging to develop a plan to expand the state’s services for seniors and people with disabilities, critics believe the $2 billion budget reserve will not provide adequate resources for long-term care and public health. It will be up to you to keep these care facilities accountable and ensure your loved ones are taken care of.

Wagner Reese – Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Abuse Lawyers

It may be extremely difficult to think of your elderly or disabled loved ones not being properly cared for, but it does happen. And in the worst cases it can result in death. If a loved one is showing signs of neglect, complains about the care being received in a long-term care facility or nursing home, appears altered in emotional or physical ways, or if you fear they have been neglected, mistreated, physically, sexually, or financially abused, Wagner Reese can fight for justice in your situation. None of us wants to see our loved ones suffer, but you can help protect others from the same fate in the future. Call our offices today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a risk-free consultation.

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