Nursing home abuse is a shameful problem that has been growing in prevalence as our population ages. As more baby boomers live longer and move into nursing homes in their later years, increasing numbers of people are being mistreated by the staff at these facilities. According to the Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee’s annual report, more than 47% of patients in nursing homes (who have dementia) have been abused or mistreated by their caregivers.
Fortunately, there are several warning signs that you can look out for if you suspect that your elderly loved one is not being cared for properly, including:
- Unexplained bruises and other injuries
- Medication errors
- Weight loss, dehydration, hunger
- Withdrawal from social activities, depression, fearfulness, lethargy
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Missing valuables, money
If you see these or any other signs of neglect or abuse you are obliged by law to report it. You can report the abuse to the manager of the nursing home and you and report it to Kentucky Adult Protective Services at 800.752.6200. If it is an emergency situation where the individual has been seriously injured dial 911 immediately.
Preventing nursing home abuse
There is so much that you can do to prevent elder abuse. Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms, and encouraging others to learn them too, is a great first step in helping to end abuse and neglect. Remember:
- If you see signs of abuse, you should report it right away
- Visiting your loved ones in their nursing homes more often makes it more difficult for “caretakers” to abuse or neglect your family member
- Surprise visits at mealtimes can ensure that your parent, sibling or grandparent is both hydrated and properly nourished
- Keep an eye on your family members’ medications. Make sure that they are taking them according to the schedule and dosage amounts on the bottle
- Active listening is key. Be aware of any changes in attitude or personality, and ask questions about your family members’ experiences and happiness. Often, elders who are being abused or who have witnessed others being abused do not report it because they fear retaliation. Keep the lines of communication open, and look for a new home if your loved one feels unsafe.
Crandall & Pera Law offers comprehensive representation to families with loved ones in nursing homes in Kentucky and Ohio. Please contact us to find out how we can help you.