What if you were in a situation where you felt that your own home is no longer yours anymore and your family members don't really want to have you around them? Or that you have become a liability on your loved ones? Or that your family no longer cares enough for you to talk to you or spend time with you and take care of you? What would you do if you were elderly, had become frail and couldn't take care of yourself? Sounds worrisome, doesn't it?
It is for elderly people facing such situations in real life that nursing homes have been created. Going to a nursing home should feel getting like a second chance from life – to live again with your head held high, to feel loved, comforted and basically, wanted. After all, that's all most elderly people want. Having lived all their life taking care of their children and fulfilling all their responsibilities toward them, the last thing they would expect would be to be avoided by them. Hence, to escape such embarrassing situations and living through their old age with self respect, a nursing home would seem like a boon.
Although a nursing home is meant to provide a safe shelter to the elderly, it also has it's dark realities. Nursing home abuse is one such ugly reality that many elderly residents go through. This abuse can take place in various ways and can be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual in nature. And elderly people become easy targets of such abuse as old age makes them insecure, helpless and defenseless. Whether it happens knowingly or unknowingly, such abuse should be dealt with zero tolerance and all possible efforts should be made to bring the culprits to book with the help of legal recourse, if required.
Physical abuse is the most common form of abuse found to occur in nursing homes. These could be in the form of physical injuries and/or physical manipulation caused to the resident. Some of the common examples of physical abuse to the elderly patients are as follows:
Mishandling the patient
Causing physical injuries/wounds to the patient
Grabbing the patient
Force feeding the patient
Non-assistance with respect to maintenance of hygiene of the patient
Forcefully eliciting movement from the patient
There are some measures that can be taken to ensure that the elderly do not have to endure any of these. In this post we will be discussing some of them.
Do the Research
Finding a trustworthy nursing home based on other people's experience and word-of-mouth accounts may be well worth the effort. Do some research on elderly abuse statistics in the nursing homes that you might be considering for your loved one. Once you have narrowed down your choices on the nursing home, visit them and see for yourself as to which one's are most professionally managed and have enough care giving staff. Only when you're convinced about the nursing home, enroll your loved one there.
Your Presence Can Make a Difference
Visiting your loved one frequently helps. Once the nursing home staff is aware that the family and friends of a particular patient come to see them every now and then, chances of physical abuse to such an inmate become quite low. Encouraging the patient to make friends and being vocal with other inmates in the same facility also goes a long way in their protection against any potential abuse.
Ask your loved one as to how he/she is being treated by the staff and other inmates of the nursing home. Watch out for any signs of sudden social withdrawal or unusual behavior around certain people on part of the patient. Also, look out for physical signs of abuse such as deep scratches, bruises, bed sores, sudden weight loss, dehydration, injuries suffered due to preventable fall and marks from improper use of restraints – physical or chemical.
Take the time to get to know the staff at the nursing home. This is important to be able to get an idea of their personality and intentions. This will also reduce the chances of any kind of physical abuse from being meted out to your loved one.
Report the Abuse
If you happen to find something out of sorts or feel that one or many of the signs are showing in your loved one's behavior or body, immediately talk to them about it. Handle the talk gently to be able to elicit the complaint from the patient. Verify the complaint and if it is found to be genuine, immediately file a complaint against the nursing home with concerned authorities and elderly protective services.
You can also consider hiring legal aid from experts who have prior experience in dealing with cases related to elderly abuse in the nursing home and file a lawsuit.
Understanding the signs of abuse is the often the first step toward preventing it. Although the number of such complaints reported are low in number, it always helps to be vigilant about it. Whether it takes place intentionally or unintentionally, it is a very serious offense and a problem that the no elderly person deserves to be put through.