Stories of nursing home abuse and neglect are tragically, and disturbingly, common. If you have a loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home, don’t despair. There are ways to ensure that your loved one receives proper care in a safe, compassionate environment. Read on to learn how about choosing the best nursing home for your loved one, and how to identify elder abuse and neglect.
Choosing the Best Nursing Home for Your Loved One
If you are still in these preliminary stages, ask around. Once you’ve gotten referrals for good nursing homes, visit them yourself. The questions below will help you know what to look for when you visit.
- Ask if you and your loved one can have a meal in the dining hall. How does the food look and taste? Meal times are also a good opportunity for social engagement. Do residents look happy? Are they smiling and talking freely?
- Does the home look and smell clean? Nursing homes can have less-than-pleasant odors, but if the building reeks of garbage, stale urine, and feces it may indicate a larger problem.
- Observe the staff. Do they appear to enjoy their job? Do they seem overworked and easily agitated? Do they interact well with each other? And you can do more than observe. Asking the staff these questions directly can tell a lot.
- Also ask the staff about a day in the life of a resident. How do they spend their afternoons? Are there activities available throughout the day, or is everyone hidden away in their rooms, watching television alone?
Types of Abuse and Neglect
Elder abuse isn’t always physical. Emotional and financial abuse can be more difficult to detect. Types of abuse and neglect common in nursing homes include:
- Physical abuse: hitting, smacking, shoving, over-use of restraints, force feeding
- Psychological or emotional abuse: threats, humiliation, manipulation, isolation, withholding food
- Neglect: not giving proper medications or dosages, lack of food and water, unsanitary bed linens and clothing, failing to regularly move an immobile patient to prevent bedsores
- Financial exploitation: using money or property without the elder’s permission, forcing the elder to sign over a will or deed, forging the elder’s signature on financial documents, identity theft, stealing money
- Sexual abuse: any type of unwanted contact of a sexual nature, including touching, rubbing, sexual assault, and rape