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How Can You Help Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial violence or neglect. The best way to prevent nursing home abuse is reducing your loved one’s risk.

Is Nursing Home Abuse Common?

In a 2012 survey conducted by the National Council on Elder Abuse (NCEA), more than 50 percent of nursing home staff committed physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Senior citizens are vulnerable because of their age and health issues. They are often reluctant to speak out for fear of increased violence.

How Do I Reduce my Loved One’s Risk of Nursing Home Abuse?

When it is time to select a nursing home, make an informed choice. Select a facility near family, doctors, favorite shopping, and other important places. Check your state’s elder affair agencies for facility ratings, reports, and violations. There should be a low resident-to-staff ratio. Often, abuse and neglect are the product of overworked and understaffed employees.

If your loved one lives in a nursing home, stay in close contact. Notice any sudden changes in appearance or demeanor. Your attention and involvement could protect an elderly relative from a dangerous situation.

Be a Regular Visitor Who Is Engaged in Your Loved One’s Care

Isolated nursing home residents with minimal or no family support are more vulnerable to abuse which may be because the perpetrator feels there is little chance of getting caught. A common warning sign of abuse is a nursing home that discourages visitors.

If you live nearby, visit as often as you can. Do not announce each visit to the staff (unless needed for security reasons). Residents who receive regular visits are more visible to staff and reduces their risk of being a victim.

My Loved One Lives Far from Me – How Else Can I Stay in Touch?

If you live too far to visit often, call at least once a week. Mail cards and letters, and check with your loved one to make sure they were received. If your loved one has a computer or phone, use Facetime or Skype for a virtual visit. It is also a wise idea to speak often with the director of nursing and your loved one’s regular caregivers.

Do Certain Health Conditions Increase the Likelihood of Abuse?

According to the NCEA, residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other types of cognitive decline are easier targets for physical, emotional, and financial abuse. If your senior is in a traditional nursing home, you might want to find a memory care facility. These nursing homes are for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Added risk factors are residents with disabilities, limited finances and resources, and those who need help with daily living activities.

Should I Install a Hidden Camera in the Room?

According to a 2016 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, five states allow video or electronic monitoring in nursing homes. However, many states have statutes that prohibit hidden cameras, microphones, and other recording devices.

How Can I Prevent my Loved One from Financial Abuse or Scams?

If your loved one is still in charge of his or her financial affairs, warn them about solicitations for money from email or telephone con artists. Be on the alert for caregivers who ask to borrow money or try to change your loved one’s will. For seniors with memory or cognitive issues, they should be informed about their finances but have an appointed family member, trusted friend, or attorney manage their money.

How Can I Determine if a Fall or Other Injury is Abuse or Normal Aging Issues?

Even with competent care and safe surroundings, seniors fall. Certain medications, like blood thinners, cause bruising to the skin that can look alarming. These are typical issues related to aging. However, repeated falls or unexplained bumps and bruises could be a sign of abuse or neglect. A reputable nursing home has nothing to hide and will tell you if your loved one falls or gets injured accidentally.

If You See Something, Say Something

Victims of nursing home abuse are often unable or unwilling to speak out. You should know the warning signs of physical and mental abuse and neglect. If you suspect something is wrong, act. Contact the facility administrator, the NCEA, or your state agency. If the situation is immediate and life-threatening, call 9-1-1.

Your loved one has rights that include a safe place to live without abuse or neglect. You may also contact a nursing home abuse lawyer about legal options for you and a nursing home abuse victim. For a free consultation, please call (800) 516-4783.