Baby boomers are growing older and becoming more dependent on in-home nurses, assisted-living facilities, and nursing homes to live their day-to-day lives and to achieve success in basic tasks. This new, growing industry, like all new, growing industries, is not yet fully regulated. As such, you must be vigilant in making sure your loved ones are not taken advantage of – be it physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal/mental/psychological abuse, financial exploitation, or malnutrition and/or neglect.
If you suspect any of these are happening to your loved ones, you have options. First of all, you should make unexpected visits. This allows you to view the situational circumstances in a more natural manner because the staff will not have had time to “prepare” your loved one in advance of your visit. Secondly, you should inquire as to whether or not you can spend some alone time with your loved one – although, depending on the degree to which they are dependent on stewards/nurses, this may not be possible for legitimate reasons. You should also contact a medical malpractice attorney experienced in nursing home abuse cases to discuss other options.
Unfortunately, there may be false positives, such as a belligerent grandmother suffering from late stage dementia or Alzheimer’s, who claim neglect or abuse, but are not actually experiencing it. Another example would be unexplained bruising. Sometimes, the use of restraints is warranted to administer medication or for other necessary purposes, which can account for potential bruising, which the elderly are far more prone to than younger people. That said, the restraints should be padded leather so as not to hurt them.
One way to check against false positives is to use a “nanny-cam” like device, a “granny-cam,” if you will, which can be obtained via the internet or even your local baby supply store. Some facilities have actually become proactive regarding this, by installing their own security cameras to make sure their staff is not abusing the residents. You can ask to view the recordings yourself, although if you do suspect abuse and/or neglect, it is highly recommended that you provide your own, as the video they show you may have been doctored to protect themselves.
If possible, have your own, private, non-affiliated doctor perform exams at whatever regularity you wish. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about, the elderly do still have sex drives, and as such, may be participating in sexual acts with other residents. Despite your approval or lack thereof, there is not much you can do about this – as long as it is with other residents, and not staff.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman are here for you. If you confirm your suspicions or need help doing so, please contact us and we will assist you. We will fight on your loved one’s behalf and make sure they receive the abuse-free elder care that they deserve. Our phone number is (614) 221-3318 and we are located at 226 North Fifth Street, Fifth Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.