This purpose of this post is to write briefly on how you can become your loved one's best healthcare advocate in a nursing home environment. Despite good steps taken by you in ensuring placement in a good quality nursing home or assisted living facility, unfortunately it does not mean that your loved one will be immune from suffering harms within a nursing home or assisted care environment. Some may even be wondering, “what if my loved one is already in a nursing home?”
In several recent blog posts we have been writing about nursing homes and assisted living facilities for the elder care of your loved one. In one post we examined some basic criteria for determining whether your loved one may need a nursing home or assisted living environment. In other posts, we took a look at what types of facilities are available, and we have also explored some help that is available in selecting a good quality nursing home.
Understand, nursing home facilities, like other healthcare institutions such as hospitals, are dealing with the constant rise of health care costs. The United States is seeing double digit increases in healthcare nearly every year. Additionally, nursing home facilities are dealing with the increasing demand to provide for the elder care of our older population; this means each year, nursing homes have more and more elderly to take care of. Because of these two important factors, nursing homes, even the best ones, can be a hazardous environment for your loved one. If there is any good news, it is that there are warning signs when your loved one may be experiencing neglect or abuse. The list below was obtained from the National Center on Elder Abuse and Administration on Aging. It is a short list and is certainly not an all-inclusive list. Unfortunately, elder abuse or neglect can also include sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, physical neglect, abandonment, and financial or material exploitation.
While one sign alone does not necessarily signify neglect or abuse, it might, and it should certainly prompt you to investigate.
Neglect or Abuse may be a problem if you observe:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.
Being aware of these and listening to your intuition will prepare you to be your loved one's best healthcare advocate.
You can click on the link below to download a whitepaper prepared by the National Center of Elder Abuse that provides the information about how to recognize and what to do about physical, emotional, chemical, financial, and neglectful elder abuse. Also below is a link to hotlines for help, reporting problems, and referral sources.
Educating yourself is one way to help prevent elder abuse. We don't like to think of this, but the fact is, elder abuse is real and being aware of it can help prevent it. You can also help prevent elder abuse by keeping in contact with your older loved ones and friends. Maintaining good communication will also help decrease isolation, which is a risk factor for the mistreatment of our elderly population.
In the coming weeks, we will be looking more in depth as to leading causes of this unfortunate fact of life for the elderly in nursing homes and also more specific information on these types of abuse. You can also find more at http://www.lpr-attorneys.com/index.php/practice-areas/nursing-home-abuse.