There comes a time in many people’s lives when they realize the rest of their life will be spent in a nursing home or assisted care facility. Sometimes we make this decision ourselves. Sometimes the loved one’s hand is forced by a child or relative, and sometimes, due to debilitating health issues, a nursing home is the best option.
Ethical standards suggest that long-term care facilities care for the elderly and help them live active lives. Still, like all businesses, some long-term care facilities are poorly managed and improperly staffed. Nursing home abuse in on the rise in America, and the statistics are quite eye-opening.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that abuse-related incidents rose close to 11% from 2013 to 2017. Due to fear of retaliation or shame, the Associated Press stated that 6,600 cases of possible abuse went unreported. Based on averages, only one in 14 abuse cases are reported.
Steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse
Document everything. If you notice any bleeding, bruising, bedsores, genital bruising, decreased mood, erratic emotions, odd purchases or anything else unexplainable, document it. Four ways to document the scene are to observe your loved one for consecutive days, jot down any issues, take pictures and record videos of the possible abuse and interview others and the victim that could provide an eye witness account.
If the possible abuse has not bee reported by a doctor or other healthcare worker, report the issue immediately to a doctor, nursing home administration, the police by calling 911 (if the abused victim seems to be in imminent danger), or a Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The Eldercare Locator and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) are both viable resources to seek guidance and gain resources that will protect your loved one.
You care about your loved ones and want what’s best for them. If the nursing home is failing to provide proper care and abuse is suspected, another avenue to pursue is to contact a licensed attorney to fight for your loved one.