When we make the difficult decision to place our parents in nursing homes, we want to be certain they will be treated well. It is not easy to trust strangers to care for our moms and dads, and it is important not to do so blindly.
While many people receive great care in Chicago area nursing homes, you must recognize the risk of abuse and neglect. Keep your eyes open. As your parent's strongest advocate, you can help ensure they receive great treatment.
Abuse and neglect are difficult to spot, especially if your loved one has dementia. While you may not be able to rely on your parent to tell you what goes on in the nursing home, the following symptoms are red flags indicating abuse and neglect:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or even broken bones: Ask your parent and the nursing home staff to explain any injuries as soon as you notice them.
- Sudden weight loss without a medical reason: If your parent has lost so much weight his or her clothes aren't fitting well, ask the physician about it. The elderly can experience weight loss for many reasons, but it is important to rule out malnourishment and depression, which may be a result of abuse.
- Bed sores: In many cases, bed sores are preventable. A bed sore is an indicator that your parent isn't getting enough care, possibly due to understaffing.
- Drastic changes in demeanor: Nursing home residents who are being abused may become withdrawn, depressed, or uncharacteristically anxious or agitated. Investigate such changes by talking to your loved one and asking a physician if there is a medical cause.
- Falls or increasing incidence of problems: Falls and other events that cause injuries at nursing homes are not always avoidable - but in many cases, they are caused by neglect and understaffing. Keep track of occurrences like falls, and ask staff what they are doing to prevent them.
By visiting your parent on a regular basis, and getting to know the doctors, nurses and other caretakers, you can help ensure you catch problems early.
If you suspect abuse or neglect has occurred, take steps immediately to prevent your loved one from further harm. Report the abuse and consult with an experienced attorney who can help you get the answers and compensation owed.