What Should I Do If I Suspect My Parent Has Experienced Negligence in Their Nursing Home?
You took the time to thoroughly screen your parent’s nursing home before placing them in it. But that does not mean you should assume that they are completely safe. Sure, things may look fine on the surface. Every time you visit your parent, he or she is happy to see you and hates to see you go. But, if you suspect that there is another reason why your parent is not eager for you to leave or is always asking for you to take them with you, you may be wondering what is going on and what to do about it.
Signs of Elder Care Abuse You Should Watch for
Nursing home liability and negligence are major problems in many nursing care facilities across the nation. Regardless of how credible a facility is, your loved one is at risk of being physically and mentally abused and financially exploited. There are signs of abuse and nursing home negligence that you can look for to determine if your parent is being mistreated, states U.S. News & World Report. But sometimes you may have to just go with your gut feeling.
Obvious signs of abuse and negligence you should look for are:
- Sudden changes in appearance – If your parent requires assistance with their personal needs, their caregivers are responsible for helping them. When their caregivers neglect them, they often have to manage them on their own which can result in them losing weight, having poor personal hygiene and a malnourished appearance.
- Bruises, broken bones and other injuries – If your parent has mobility issues and all of a sudden has bruises, broken bones and other injuries that they can or cannot explain, there is a strong possibility that their caregivers are neglecting them and leaving them to do things that they need assistance with on their own.
- Decreased mental alertness – Being abused can cause your parent to experience psychological changes that can affect their mental awareness and emotions. They may start acting distant from you, expressing anger and resentment, showing signs of depression and acting fearful towards their caregivers.
Bear in mind that not all signs of senior abuse are obvious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many nursing home residents do not report when they are being abused and mistreated by the staff or fellow residents. Some of them are afraid of retaliation, the abuse becoming worse and may also suffer from feelings of shame and embarrassment.
You should keep an eye out for the less obvious signs of nursing home negligence. Your parent’s room and elder care home may be filled with hazards that can cause them to have accidents. Common factors that can lead to your loved one falling and sustaining injuries include inadequate lighting, slippery surfaces, poorly maintained floors and unsafe furniture. A high turnover rate can also indicate that the staff does not have the required training, skills and experience to properly care for the residents.
What to Do If You Suspect Negligence and Want to Prove Nursing Home Liability?
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, do not ignore that feeling. Instead, you should take immediate action to prevent their situation from becoming worse. The decisions you make regarding the situation can affect your loved one directly and the quality of care she receives in their nursing home.
- Contact law enforcement. If your parent has injuries or you suspect that she is in immediate and life-threatening danger, you should contact law enforcement and medical personnel so that your parent or loved one can receive medical treatment.
- Immediately notify the nursing home administrator. Do not wait until you have proof or your parent makes allegations. Make sure you document your claims and retain copies, so you have proof such claims were made. Do not wait until facility administration contacts you about the steps they are taking to resolve the matter.
- Continue to visit your parent. Instead of doing so on a schedule, you and another family member should visit on different days at different times so you can see how your loved one is being treated. Not having a set time or date for your visits so you can pop in unexpectedly can make it easier for you to catch the abusive staff members in the act.
- Contact the long-term care ombudsman. File a claim so an immediate investigation can be launched to determine if your suspicions are valid.
Do not let your emotions keep you from thinking rationally about the situation. You may have chosen the nursing home that your loved one is in, but you are not responsible for any perpetrated abuse. The fault lies with the nursing home and its staff.
If you feel that your loved one is being mistreated and violated by a caregiver or even a fellow resident, they deserve to be compensated for any injuries and mental anguish they may have experienced. You may want to contact an attorney who specializes in nursing home liability and nursing home negligence if you feel your parent’s situation is not being given the attention it deserves to ensure a timely resolution. A lawyer can help you understand your legal options, which may include suing the responsible parties.