If your parent is in a nursing home, how can you tell the difference between an occasional minor lapse in the quality of services and a serious sign of neglect?
The sad reality is that many seniors aren’t able to speak for themselves. Many suffer from dementia or ailments that impair their abilities to effectively communicate their problems.
It’s important not to jump to conclusions. A bruise can just as easily be the result of an unsteady gait and a bump into a piece of furniture as it is the product of rough handling. These are the signs that experts say should cause you concern:
1. There are serious staff problems.
Several different issues here should worry you, including:
- A high turnover rate: This indicates there’s something wrong with the way things are being managed and indicates poor continuity of care.
- A disinterested staff: Aides or nurses shrug off your concerns or dismiss every issue as just age-related without much thought or apparent concern.
- Not enough staff members on duty: Emergency lights and call buttons are going unanswered or there’s an inordinate wait for assistance.
- A chaotic organization. It isn’t clear who is in charge of any given situation and nothing seems to be resolved easily.
Many of these things will only become visible after you’ve been there to observe the problems yourself — so take the time to test the waters a bit if your parent is complaining about the quality of care. Turn on a call light, ask questions and judge the responses for yourself.
2. Your parent seems abnormally fearful or withdrawn.
If your parent seems to be avoiding a particular staff member or tells you that he or she doesn’t want a particular staff member involved in his or her care, take the issue seriously. Even if your parent suffers from hallucinations associated with dementia, it’s important to be sure the staff treats the allegations with proper concern.
You may want to worry more, however, over what your parent doesn’t say. If he or she seems agitated around a particular staff member, that’s a sign that something is wrong.
Ultimately, you have to use your instincts. The odds are good that something will simply “feel” wrong before you can find hard evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect. It’s far better to play it safe than risk your parent’s health. Review our website for more information.