If you are acting as the caregiver for an elderly loved one, you will quite likely come to the point where you decide it is time to put him or her in a long-term care facility. You will hardly be alone in this: roughly 2 million seniors in the U.S. live in these kinds of facilities.
Still, when that time comes, you will want to be on the lookout for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. This is especially true if your elderly loved one is unable to communicate well. Here are some things you can watch for in order to be sure the facility is not neglecting or abusing its residents.
Perhaps one of the most subtle—and yet most telling—signs of neglect or abuse is a sudden and unexplained change in your loved one’s behavior. If he or she is suddenly afraid of being touched, or seems unusually apprehensive, it could be a sign of mistreatment. Also, keep an eye out for coping mechanisms such as rocking, guarding, or skittishness.
Sometimes, abuse or neglect will not leave any obvious behavioral changes. What’s more, the telltale signs such as unexplained bruises, cuts, or scratches may not be present. Still, if your senior loved one suddenly loses weight, seems afraid to speak in front of the staff, or just seems unusually agitated, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Of course, there could be a reasonable explanation for any of the above signs that does not involve abuse or neglect. Still, if you see anything, you may want to investigate the matter.
Remember, your elderly loved one may not be able to do anything about the matter, and may be relying on you to be his or her advocate. By educating yourself and watching for signs of neglect or abuse, you can help ensure that your senior’s experience in the facility is a good one.