Keeping Your Loved One In A Nursing Home Safe During The Holidays
The holiday season is a time for families and friends to gather together and celebrate! For many people, this holiday season marks the first time in years loved ones can gather in person. It is a time that should be filled with joy.
But, some families will not have everyone they want at their holiday table. Millions of Americans live in nursing homes, and some of them will be unable to attend celebrations with their loved ones. This can put a damper on the holidays for everyone.
Deciding that someone you love should live in a nursing home is not always an easy one to make. It often means that they can no longer care for themselves, which can be a difficult realization for everyone involved. Nursing home residents often depend on others to assist them with eating, bathing, dressing, and mobilizing. It is always the expectation that the staff and administrators are attentive to the needs of their residents and provide them with the care they require.
Hopefully, after much research, you found a safe place for your loved one. Many nursing homes provide compassionate care and supervision to the seniors who live there. They have staff members who treat their residents with respect and kindness, engaging them in appropriate physical and mental activities.
Sadly, some nursing homes do not meet the standards required by law, and their residents suffer the consequences. Neglect and abuse of nursing home residents are a nationwide problem. Covid-19 protocols have allegedly made it harder for some nursing homes to provide the most basic care to their patients. Restrictions on visitors have made it difficult for families to check in on their loved ones.
Even nursing homes with outstanding reputations have struggled to keep their residents safe and healthy during the last few years. For long stretches, no one could visit nursing homes, making it harder than usual for families and friends to gauge the wellness of their loved ones. Were they lonely? Did anyone talk to them during the day, engage them in activities, or make sure they were clean? Were they eating and drinking? Did they even get out of bed?
Now that the doors to nursing homes have reopened, families can see for themselves how their loved ones are faring. The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to assess the safety of your loved one in a nursing home. Go see them. Not only can you help make their holidays a little brighter, but you can also make sure they are receiving the care they deserve.
Nursing Home Residents Don’t Always Report Abuse And Neglect
It is often up to visitors to notice that nursing home residents are suffering from abuse or neglect. Why don’t the victims report it themselves or advocate for their safety?
There are several reasons for this:
- Residents can’t always speak up for themselves because of physical limitations or fear
- Staff members are often alone with patients, which means there might not be witnesses to the abuse
- Nursing home patients worry no one will believe them
- Nursing home residents often have many ailments making it difficult to know what is the result of abuse and neglect and what is “normal.”
- People tend not to believe stories of abuse told by residents who have memory impairment or dementia
- Being entirely dependent on nursing home staff to provide basic necessities makes it difficult to speak up. Will the abuse get worse? Will they stop feeding you or talking to you?
It might be up to you to notice signs that your loved one is suffering and report your findings to the administration, management, or even the police.
What To Look For When You Visit Your Loved One: Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes
If possible, ask your loved ones questions about the care they are receiving. Take their answers seriously and see if they correlate with what you see for yourself.
Common signs of abuse and neglect might include:
- Bed sores/pressure ulcers
- Fractures, or broken bones
- Lack of cleanliness
- Soiled clothing or linens
- Extreme agitation
- Bruises, cuts, or welts in various stages of healing or infection
- Extreme withdrawal or isolation
- Unwillingness to speak or obvious fear around certain staff members
- Wandering or elopement
- Unusual or extreme sedation (chemical restraint)
- Changes in medication
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Sexual behavior or sexually explicit language
- Unusual changes in behavior such as fear, rocking, biting
If you see any of these signs, it is important to make sure your loved one is not being mistreated. Find out how those bruises got there. Why do they have bedsores? Are they being repositioned to avoid them? Ask why their meds were changed and by whom. Find out why they don’t want to be touched.
Get help if you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home.
When Your Loved One In A Nursing Home, Reach Out During The Holidays
Nursing home safety includes emotional and physical well-being. The holidays can be a lonely time for nursing home residents. In-person visits are big boosters, but there are other things you can do to help reduce the loneliness of someone you love who lives in a nursing home.
Consider the following suggestions:
- Add simple, safe, festive, or meaningful holiday decorations to their room
- Encourage them to share stories of past holiday traditions
- Deliver familiar holiday treats to them – perhaps enough to share with friends
- Seek spiritual support for them if appropriate
- Help them to write holiday cards
- Encourage extended family members and friends to send holiday cards
- Organize small virtual holiday gatherings that can help them feel engaged and connected to people they love
These little things can make a tremendous difference to your loved one. Can you think of a better way to honor the spirit of the holidays?
Call Alonso Krangle, LLP, If You Are Worried About Neglect and Abuse In Your Loved One’s Nursing Home
At Alonso Krangle, LLP, our nursing home lawyers can help if you suspect your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect.
Call us today at 800-403-6191 to schedule a free consultation.