Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem. When you suspect that a loved one is suffering at the hands of those meant to take care of him or her, the worst thing you can do is nothing. You have a responsibility to ensure your loved one’s safety. If an elderly relative is unable to speak for himself or herself, you have a responsibility to act as an advocate and protector.
Nevertheless, it can be difficult to know the best course of action to take. Here is a guide to help you respond appropriately.
1. Take Reports Seriously
Some people dismiss reports from nursing home residents of possible abuse or neglect as the delusional products of a frail mind. However, if a loved one is telling you something is wrong, you have a responsibility to look into it. If it turns out to be nothing, then no harm is done. On the other hand, if it turns out to be something, you must act accordingly.
2. Beware of Gaslighting
If someone on staff at the nursing home is abusing an elderly resident, he or she may lie about it out of self-interest and try to convince you and your loved one not to believe what you see and experience. Get a second opinion from someone you trust, such as a primary care physician accustomed to treating your loved one.
3. Assess the Threat Level
The safety of your loved one is paramount. If there is immediate danger, call 911. It may be necessary to remove your loved one from the facility if you feel he or she could come to serious harm otherwise.
4. Go Through the Proper Channels
If the threat level is low and your loved one is not in immediate danger, you can start by expressing your concerns to the administrators of the nursing home. If this does not work, you can appeal to the long-term care ombudsman. This is a government official whose job is to advocate for residents of long-term care facilities and assess reports of mistreatment or other complaints.
5. Gather Evidence
If it is just your word against the nursing home, it can be a challenge to convince others of what is happening. The more concrete evidence you can provide, the stronger your case will be. Eyewitness testimony and pictures or videos of the resulting injuries can be very effective evidence. It can also help to observe your loved one’s behavior and document any changes you perceive.
Your loved one has the right to be treated with dignity, and it may fall to you to protect that right. However, you need not handle it on your own. One of our attorneys, like a nursing home abuse lawyer, would be happy to evaluate your case. Contact our office for an appointment.