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How can Californians protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse?

Nursing home abuse is an all too common problem, however, there are steps that people can take to protect their loved ones.

Sometimes, people in San Francisco, and throughout California, need medical treatment and care that their families and loved ones are not able to provide. As such, they may reside in nursing homes, and other assisted-living facilities. When moving their family members into such facilities, people depend on them being provided with the compassion and care they need and deserve.

All too often, people in nursing homes are abused by those who are entrusted with their care. In fact, 44 percent of the 2,000 nursing home residents interviewed in one study said that they had been abused, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. While not all elder mistreatment in nursing homes can be prevented, there are things that people can do to help protect their loved ones.

Research facilities before choosing one

Before moving a loved one into a nursing home, people should research facilities. This includes visiting the homes and meeting the administrators. When walking through the facilities, people should ask to see the entire facility, pay attention to the residents and how they are being treated, and ask to see the facility’s inspection report and license. If possible, people should try to visit the nursing homes they are considering on more than one occasion and at different times of day.

Vary visitation days and times

In today’s busy world, people often keep tight schedules, which include visiting a loved one in a nursing home. If the nursing home staff knows when to expect visits, they can hide signs of abuse and make sure everything looks as it should. Visiting at various times on different days of the week may help ensure that people notice any signs of abuse.

Watch out for warning signs

Nursing home abuse includes emotional and physical abuse, as well as neglect. There are a number of warning signs that people have been, or are being, mistreated. According to California’s Office of the Attorney General, these include the following:

Poor hygiene
Unusual, recurring or unexplained injuries
Abnormal depression or withdrawal from normal activities
Development of pressure sores
Significant weight loss
By knowing the signs to watch out for, people can ensure that abuse is caught right away if it does occur. This can help ensure it does not continue, and that no other patients are also mistreated.

Report suspicions to the authorities

If no one intervenes, abuse can be ongoing and, in some cases, may escalate. Therefore, it is important that people report any suspicions right away. According to California’s Office of the Attorney General, people who are concerned a loved one has been abused should report it to their local long-term care ombudsman or the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. In cases when serious harm has occurred or emergency assistance is needed, however, people should call 911 or contact their local law enforcement.

Seek legal counsel

As a result of nursing home abuse, residents in California, and elsewhere, may suffer injuries or worsened medical conditions. This may lead to undue medical expenses, and other damages. In some cases, the staff member who committed the abuse, or the facility, may be held liable. Therefore, those whose family members have been abused in a nursing home may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their options, and help them obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.