The daily decisions that nursing home workers make can make a huge difference in the life of your parents once they are placed in a care home. Tragically, ABC News reported that one in three nursing home patients are abused. This unacceptable statistic is known all too well by personal injury lawyers who represent patients and their families when they've been hurt by the negligence of nursing home workers. Here are some of the dos and don'ts of protecting your parents from nursing home abuse, so hopefully they can be spared the pain that so many older people experience.
Don't Ignore the Signs of Possible Neglect
Sometimes abuse starts with small issues of neglect, then it may escalate if a staff member sees that people are not looking in on the vulnerable elderly person. It's okay to be perceived a pain to the staff at your parents' care facility. Some signs of possible neglect include:
- Painful bed sores.
- Increased withdrawal from you and other loved ones.
- Bruises in multiple parts of the body.
- Dry mouth, headaches, and other signs of dehydration.
- Unexplained broken bones.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Some patients experience some of these signs even when they are receiving excellent care, but you should be cautious if your parents show these signs of potential neglect.
Do Check in with Your Parents Frequently
Talk to your parents frequently when they are in a care facility. Although you may not be able to physically visit as often as you'd like, try to keep the avenues of communication as open as possible. Be sure to address the issue of potential abuse to them and let them know that they should let you know if they are ever mistreated in any way. Also, let them know who else they can talk to if they have a problem with opening up to you about abuse.
Don't Be Afraid to Call the Authorities
If your parents are in immediate danger, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends calling the local police or dialing 911. Otherwise, if you simply suspect that abuse may be going on, you can contact the Adult Protective Services agency in the state that the nursing home is located. The National Center on Elder Abuse has a variety of helpful resources, and a personal injury attorney can help you with fighting back against abuse that has already occurred.
Finally, keep in mind that you should take any suspicions of nursing home abuse seriously. Consult a personal injury attorney such as Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys PA if either of your parents have been hurt while staying at a nursing home. A skilled nursing facility and other employees of nursing homes should provide a high standard of care.