As our country’s population ages, elder care is becoming an increasing concern. Oftentimes, nursing homes and elder care facilities have compassionate, caring staff who take care of our elders when they can no longer care for themselves. Are you able to determine the signs of elder abuse?
When we imagine our loved ones in a care facility, we expect that they would spend their days being assisted in every way by a loving healthcare professional. We hope that our loved ones are receiving stellar medical care, regular grooming, healthy and nutritious food. And we hope that they are receiving this care with gentleness and meekness of heart.
The unfortunate reality is that oftentimes, elder care facilities are becoming more crowded as our Baby Boomer generation ages. And sometimes, this crowding can cause a drop in the level of service for our elderly loved ones.
The uncomfortable truth is that sometimes our loved ones can sit in a hallway for an entire day with little to no care. Grooming is a low priority, which can cause even more health problems at an age when the smallest infection can be a major ordeal.
And we have all most likely encountered the stubbornness of an elder that does not want to receive care from someone else. The elderly can be frustrating at times. Even so, there is never any reason for abuse or negligence.
Do you suspect that a loved one under elder care is experiencing some form of abuse or neglect? Sometimes the signs are easy to mistake for various health concerns or even a decrease in energy that the elderly experience.
Frequent visits to see your loved one can provide many clues to the condition of their treatment. If you can manage to make surprise visits at unexpected times, you will typically gather more information than on a planned visit. While you are there, observe the care your loved one is receiving.
Ask yourself some of the following questions as you are inspecting the level of care of your loved one:
Does your loved one appear dirty or unkempt? How about their bed linens? Do they appear to be clean and to have been changed recently? Is your loved one dressed appropriately?
Inadequate clothing or bed linen changes can be a sign of neglect. These are basic items that should be attended to frequently. Your loved one should also be clean to prevent infections.
Does your loved one have untreated open sores or bed sores from infrequent turning?
Aging skin is fragile and sores can be common with failing health, but if not given proper medical attention, open sores can easily become infected, causing much more serious health problems. Infrequent turning can be a sign that a care professional has not visited recently.
Are there unexplained bruises on your loved one?
This could be a sign that a health care professional has used too much force with your loved one. Sometimes the force is unintentional, but can often be avoided with proper techniques. There is little reason that a loved one should receive bruises from a caretaker.
Is your loved one losing weight at an alarming pace?
We often dismiss concerns with weight loss in the elderly as a sign of a slowing metabolism or other underlying medical concerns, but weight loss can be a sign of starvation. This is a serious concern that should be explored before dismissing.
How about medication? Is your loved one receiving the proper medication at the right dose on time?
Health care facilities typically keep record of medications to ensure that a patient is receiving proper medical care. Never feel like you are being obtrusive asking to see the medication chart as long as your loved one does not object.
If you are noticing signs of elder abuse or neglect, do not ignore them. There could be an underlying reason your loved one continues to experience those symptoms.
Remember, you or your loved one are paying for proper care from that care provider, and a basic level of care is expected. Anything less than that basic level of care is considered neglect and abuse.
Would you allow your own child to be under that level of care? If the answer is yes, then the level of care could be sufficient. If the answer is no, then you need to consider taking additional steps to ensure that your loved one is under the level of elder care that you expect and that they need.
If you suspect elder abuse, please call us for a free consultation. We are on your side.