One of the conveniences of modernity is that, as demanding and stressful as it may at times be, there are services which help busy adults with nearly every aspect of life. One vital service, that Westerners increasingly need, is long term care facilities and nursing homes. We rely on these professional facilities to care for our aging parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Alarmingly High Incidence of Abuse
While most nursing homes do a relatively good job caring for their residents, a shockingly high percentage of long term care facility and nursing home residents suffer from abuse. According to the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study, up to 500,000 seniors or more may be subject to abuse in such facilities every year. This alarming statistic immediately raises the question: What can you do to help ensure your loved one does not fall victim to nursing home abuse?
Signs of Abuse and What You Can Do
There are many steps you can take to help prevent your loved one from being abused in a long-term care facility. The first step is to identify the telltale signs that abuse may be taking place.
Below are listed some common types of abuse:
Physical abuse – Physical abuse is often the most evident kind of abuse because it can leave physical bruises and scars. Physical abuse includes any act of violence, such as hitting, biting, punching, and kicking. Some nursing home residents who have been victims of physical abuse have reported that they have been forcibly restrained or inappropriately drugged against their will.
What You Can Do
The best way to uncover physical abuse is to pay close attention to the physical condition of your loved one. Investigate any suspicious marks, including bruises, cuts, and burns. If an explanation for such bruising does not add up, investigate further.
Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes when a staff member, fellow resident, or visitor inappropriately touches a resident or makes inappropriate or sexually threatening remarks. Sexual abuse can include simple touching, or can be as serious as rape. Causing residents to perform sexual acts on one another is also sexual abuse.
What You Can Do in a Case of Sexual Abuse at a Nursing Home?
Uncovering sexual abuse can be challenging. Residents who have been subjected to sexual abuse often become withdrawn, and may suffer from depression. Often, residents do not report sexual abuse due to embarrassment or threats from the perpetrator.
The best way to prevent further sexual abuse is to have an open and trusting line of communications with your loved one. If he or she gives you any hint that sexual abuse may have been perpetrated against him or her, take the suggestion seriously and investigate thoroughly. Report such concerns to the authorities at the facility immediately, and to law enforcement if necessary.
Neglect – Neglect occurs when nursing home staff fail to provide a resident with basic, proper care. Examples of neglect include failing to give a resident his or her medication, failing to bathe a resident, and failing to turn a bedridden resident frequently enough.
What You Can Do in a Case of Neglect at a Nursing Home?
The symptoms of neglect are not always obvious, but will likely become evident over time. For example, though it may not be immediately clear that your loved one has not been bathed properly, over time the fact will become clear. In order to help prevent your loved one from suffering neglect, ask him or her about the overall care he or she is receiving, and pay close attention to any change in your loved one’s physical health or hygiene.
Visit this website for more information about nursing home abuse and your rights.