As your parents get older, you may consider putting them in a nursing home. You may have read articles quoting a Justice Department report showing that 10% of over 65-year-olds suffer abuse each year. The articles usually fail to mention that most elder abuse occurs in community settings.
While nursing home abuse does occur, the majority of staff who work in them are kind-hearted people doing their best to look after those under their care. If you need to put your parents into a nursing home, you cannot lie awake at night, wondering if someone is abusing them. What you can do is learn about the types of elder abuse that occur and understand the signs to look out for:
- Physical abuse: Help your parent get dressed every so often. It gives you the chance to spot any bruising. Physical contact, such as hugging them, is another way to notice things. If they flinch in pain, it may mean something is wrong.
- Sexual abuse: This can be harder to spot, as they may be ashamed to admit something happened. Check for changes in their behavior, which could result from this.
- Emotional abuse: Again, look for changes in behavior. Take the time to sit and chat with them about more than the weather.
- Financial abuse: Keep an eye on your parent’s finances to ensure there is no unusual activity, especially if they live with dementia.
- Neglect: Check to see they eat correctly, receive the correct medication and maintain adequate hygiene. If you notice your parent is malnourished or unwashed, it could mean the staff does not pay them sufficient attention. If you find your parent parked in front of the television every time you visit, that could again signify neglect.
By regularly checking on your parents and comparing notes with other family members, you can reduce the chance they suffer from nursing home abuse.