Families are meant to stick together in times of crisis and support each other through the thick and thin of life. This bond becomes all the more evident when a family member is in poor health and requires care.
However, even the closest families sometimes need the help of a full-time facility to support their loved ones because taking sole responsibility becomes impractical. Elderly and disabled individuals often require full-time and long-term assistance from trained professionals, and when family members are unable to handle this on their own, nursing homes provide a good solution.
While seven out of ten sixty-five-year-olds require long-term care, not everyone can get good enough assistance within their homes. Nursing homes are communal facilities designed for such individuals who need 24-hour supervision and can stay on-site. Unfortunately, sometimes nursing home standards are not up-to-par and might even threaten the health and safety of your loved ones if not inspected properly.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, make sure to examine the conditions of the place in the following ways:
1. Visit whenever you can
There is no limit to the number of times you should visit your family member in a nursing home; living alone and away from kin can be excruciating, and you never know how important your 15-minute visit might be to them. Such visits are also the perfect time to inspect the place and get a first-hand insight into whether your loved one is in safe hands.
Sometimes the living conditions might even shock you; each year, many nursing homes are caught violating state and federal laws. If you suspect neglect or abuse, you can file a nursing home lawsuit, take legal action to protect your loved one, and seek financial compensation.
On your visit, talk to the staff, inspect the condition of the room, examine the extent of freedom your loved one is given, and see whether they are kept busy during the day. Make the visit on random days rather than making it a predictable routine, such as every Wednesday, so that you can get a realistic sense of the condition.
2. On your visit, monitor cleanliness and safety
The most important concern regarding someone in a nursing home is whether they are getting good enough care for their health condition; their health safety is a top priority. When you go, ask about the staff members responsible for the patient; do they have sufficient training? Do they follow cleanliness and hygiene protocols? Is the patient socializing or left isolated? Is staff always on watch for emergencies?
Sanitation is another thing to notice. Get information about the room cleaning services, notice whether staff members wash their hands frequently, and take note of hygiene conditions in the cafeteria. It is also important that the patient is respected, so monitor the interaction between your loved one and the caretakers.
3. Keep an eye out for indicators of abuse or neglect
If your loved one isn’t getting the right care they need or is subject to abuse, you will likely notice signs if you look closely. Sometimes they may even make an effort to conceal it so that you don’t get worried or because of threats from the staff members. However, most signs are not easy to overlook.
Physical abuse will become pretty obvious if there are unexplained bruising, sprains, broken bones, scars, welts, indications of restraints like lacerations from ropes, and broken eyeglasses.
Emotional abuse might be harder to detect, but it isn’t unnoticeable either. Something is wrong if the patient has become more withdrawn than usual and less pleasant. The more serious concern arises if they show signs of dementia, mumbling behaviors, thumb-sucking, and rocking.
Also, be on the lookout for neglect; unkempt appearance, not having bathed in several days, bedsores, weight loss, dehydration, and unhygienic living conditions should raise warning bells.
4. Inspect your loved ones’ financial condition
Financial exploitation is another very common problem that nurse home residents might face. Elderly people might be targeted for this as they have financial resources. When you go, talk to the patient about their financial situation.
Any unaccounted-for withdrawals from bank accounts, unexplained changes in insurance policies, changes to the will or power of attorney, and added names to the credit cards should raise the red flag. Notice or ask if any cash is going missing from their room. Also, if your loved one was financially well-off but was not provided care of the standard, this indicates theft.
5. Notice which activities the patient is engaging in
Indeed, the disabled or elderly are not in the best condition to enjoy fun activities that others can, but this certainly does not mean they should spend their time doing nothing. Lack of activity and social isolation can negatively impact one’s psychological well-being.
On the other hand, an active social life promotes better health, inculcates a sense of security, and helps rediscover a purpose in life. It is best if the nursing home residents are engaged in activities they used to enjoy previously. So if you want, you can also bring your loved ones games you know they would like.
Sometimes staying involved in activities related to the resident’s previous profession can help ease the transition to normal living; so if the resident was a woodworker, keeping them engaged in woodwork can help them reacquire the skill and use it later.
6. Notice who is in charge
The most distressing feeling for nursing home residents is the lack of freedom and independence they enjoyed before. Experiencing similar freedom and autonomy, within their capabilities, as before can be a tremendous boost to their self-esteem. Good nursing homes acknowledge this and respect the resident’s wishes.
The patients should be allowed to make choices, design their schedules, plan activities, and practice free will. When you visit, note who is in charge and see whether they give the patient such freedom. Are they permitted to decorate and personalize their rooms? Is there any freedom to furnish their living space? Can they decide on their meals on their own?
When your loved one is in a nursing facility, their condition and health must be of concern. It isn’t easy knowing that your family member is in someone else’s care. Make sure to frequently visit, monitor cleanliness and safety, look out for abuse or neglect, and take note of the patient’s daily activities and degree of freedom. Your loved ones deserve your attention and concern no matter where they are.