Most older adults would prefer to live independently in their own homes or at least stay with their family members if they are unable to age in place. Nursing home care is typically the last choice for both aging adults and their close family members.
However, if someone has previously fallen or has a worsening medical condition, like Alzheimer’s disease, their family members may have neither the time nor the medical experience necessary to properly support them. Yet, someone who is moving into a nursing home will still need family support. Older adults in nursing homes are vulnerable to both abuse and neglect that could leave them severely injured.
When do loved ones of an older adult likely need to act on an older adult’s behalf to protect them because of something that occurred at a nursing home?
When they have preventable medical issues
The staff at a nursing home should provide regular support for those with limited mobility so that they feel comfortable and don’t try to handle tasks that will result in a fall. Those who are bedridden or largely immobile will require regular care so that they don’t develop bedsores and to treat any such injuries that do occur before they worsen.
Although infestations like lice and scabies tend to spread quickly in nursing homes, there is no inherent reason that they must move from one resident to another, proactive cleaning practices are usually enough to prevent the spread of infestations. If a loved one has a serious but preventable medical issue or injury, that could be a sign of neglect, possibly caused by chronic facility understaffing.
Change in personality or questionable injuries
Sometimes, the issues someone experiences at a nursing home won’t be the result of neglect but rather intentional misconduct. Residents subject to abuse at a nursing home may have minor but unusual injuries when family members visit. They may also demonstrate a change in personality, often becoming more withdrawn.
In some cases, staff members won’t even leave older adults alone with their family members when they come to visit. Carefully looking into the situation and visiting more regularly may be necessary to document and resolve staff misconduct.
When there are warning signs that there could be abuse or neglect occurring at a nursing home, an older adult may need their family members to act on their behalf. Looking into the situation and taking legal action when necessary can help to protect someone who is experiencing mistreatment at a nursing home.