Preventing nursing home abuse should be prioritized for anyone who works in, owns, or utilizes such a facility. A nursing home should provide quality care for people who have gone through life’s challenges and need a bit of support going forward. Yet, mistakes happen, negligence occurs, and, for many people, it goes unnoticed.
There are a few things we can do to learn how to prevent nursing home abuse from occurring. Because this is such an important topic, make sure you get the legal support you need if you or your loved one could be suffering from any type or level of nursing home abuse. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC for a free consultation to discuss your case. We are here to help you.
How Common Is Nursing Home Abuse?
It is hard to pinpoint an exact number of nursing home abuse situations simply because many cases go unreported. The World Health Organization shares that 1 in 6 people over the age of 60 experience some type of elder abuse within a community setting. It reports the following types of abuse (on a global scale):
- 11.6% of nursing home residents reported psychological abuse
- 2.6% report physical abuse
- 6.8% report financial abuse
- 4.2% report neglect
- 0.9% report sexual abuse
Keep in mind that it is expected that these numbers are very underestimated because cases of elder abuse in nursing homes and elsewhere are underreported. Knowledge is the first step in preventing nursing home abuse. Recognizing that there is a real problem and that 2 in 3 nursing home staff members admit to abusive scenarios means you must be present and observant of what is occurring, no matter how much you trust a location.
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What You Can Do to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse to Your Loved One
You cannot be there to provide constant help to your loved one or monitor their care. However, there are several things you may be able to do now that could help to reduce the risk of complications or nursing home abuse.
Reduce the Amount of Isolation Your Loved One Has
Isolation is one of the most common indicators of abuse. It also makes abuse of any type far more likely to occur. Ensure that people who are in a nursing home setting have people around them.
Make sure they are sharing a room with another person. Be sure they have interactions with other residents within the location on a consistent, throughout-the-day basis.
Not only does this support limiting abuse, but it also ensures that their quality of life remains high. That is especially necessary when dementia begins to take hold.
Play an Active Role in Medications and Medical Treatment Management
Overmedicating residents is a form of nursing home abuse that occurs in many medical settings. As a child or other caregiver, it is up to you to maintain a good understanding of what medications a person is being given and why. The key here is to ensure they are:
- Getting medications that are prescribed by their personal doctor, not just a nurse practitioner or doctor on duty
- Receiving medications specifically targeting a diagnosis they have
- Receiving the correct dosage of that medication (too much or too little is not acceptable)
Consider that, in 2018, 5% of people over the age of 65 in long-stay residential treatment centers like nursing homes were receiving antipsychotic drugs that they did not have a diagnosis for, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (based on a report provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).
This is a very real risk that is hard to pinpoint. Yet, overmedication is often done to control and quiet a person. It is a form of elder abuse.
Be Present in Their Lives as Often as Possible
Take the time necessary to be present in the life of your loved one. No matter how busy you are, this may be the best way to reduce the risk of nursing home abuse. Here are some things you can do to ensure that:
- Stop in to visit your loved one at different times of the day or night.
- Call your loved one on a consistent basis at various times and gauge their overall mental health.
- Ask for medical records to be made available to you so that you can verify that they are taking appropriate medications.
- Purchase and teach your loved one to use a video chat feature on a tablet or smartphone so you can see them when you cannot come in.
- Talk to the residents in the community with them, and make sure to make yourself available if someone wants to let you know something is going on.
Be Attentive to Changes in Your Loved One
A person in a nursing home is there because they are getting older and may have health complications. To be frank, a person is going to show signs of getting older over time. Yet, to prevent ongoing nursing home abuse, you need to be vigilant about changes that you do notice and find out what’s occurring.
- Look for skin bruising and irritation that could be brought on by bedsores or abuse from injury.
- Notice changes in their mood. Are they suddenly more withdrawn?
- How are they referring to their caregivers? Do they like them, or are they not willing to talk about them?
- Do they react negatively or pull back when being touched?
- Does your loved one have poor hygiene, or is otherwise looking unhealthy?
When you notice a problem, ask questions. Be prominent in their lives so that you can take action as soon as possible.
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What to Do When You Suspect a Problem
Even in the best of situations, nursing home abuse can occur. You may learn everything you can about how to prevent nursing home abuse only to find that your loved one is suffering. When that happens, put your trust in an attorney that will go the distance to protect them.
Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC for immediate help and to schedule a free consultation.