Prevent Elder Abuse by Making Healthy Choices

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( — September 7, 2019) — As reported in July of last year, elder abuse is an ongoing crime at nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the United States. These facilities are supposed to be a place where older people feel safe and are taken care of, but too often that’s not the case.

There are seemingly endless cases of employees and caregivers getting charged with elder abuse and neglect for doing things like yelling at residents, handling them violently, and forcing them to do things beyond their physical abilities.

Although it’s impossible to know for certain whether a facility has abusive staff members, there are ways you can protect your loved ones from entering a facility that has a high potential for abuse.

Research past incidents at each facility

Before placing a loved one in any kind of facility, research past incidents of elder abuse and other crimes that have occurred at that facility. In most cities, you can search for the facility’s name in court documents using an online form. You can also search for the company’s name in a search engine with keywords like lawsuit, elder abuse, settlement, etc.

Pull out all the stops. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website and search for complaints filed against the facilities you’re considering. Do everything possible to find out if the facility has a history of lawsuits. If any of those lawsuits involved elder abuse, find out if any accused or convicted staff members are still working for the facility. If they are, that’s a red flag.

Take several in-depth tours

When you schedule ahead to tour a facility, they know you’re coming, so they’re going to be on their best behavior. The facility directors will tell staff members to be extra helpful and friendly. At first glance, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a facility with naturally helpful staff, or a facility putting on a show. However, you can get an idea by watching the way residents react to the staff. If staff members are exceptionally courteous, and residents act shocked, you’ll know it’s possibly a show.

That’s why taking one tour isn’t enough. You need to visit when the staff members aren’t expecting you. If you don’t know anyone currently living in the facility, you only have one option to catch them off guard: come back unannounced.

Schedule a second appointment, but show up on the wrong day and pretend you got the date wrong and you really don’t have time to tour the facility any other time because you have to work. Take note of anything that seems different about the way staff are interacting with residents. If anything feels off, go with your intuition and skip that facility.

Look for signs of abuse

It sounds harsh, but look for signs of abuse. If you’re not looking, you might miss it. Look for residents with fractures and bruises, or residents who avoid eye contact with staff. According to Sun City elder abuse lawyers, these can be signs of abuse and neglect.

Talk to residents

Not all residents will feel like talking, but you can spot the ones who just can’t wait to share. They’ll greet you even though they don’t know you, say hello, and maybe even follow you around. These extra helpful residents can seem like a bother at first, but they can also be a great resource for what’s really going on at the facility.

When a resident wants to talk with you, be open to the conversation. Sit down with them and have a cup of tea. Introduce yourself and ask how they like the place. Chances are, there’s at least one resident that will spill the beans on everything that goes on. They’ll probably have a reputation for being the facility gossip queen but that can be to your advantage.

It’s hard to judge the competence of a facility by the happiness of residents since some people will naturally be grumpy about being anywhere but in their own home. However, if the whole place feels like a downer, residents keep to themselves and don’t socialize, your loved one won’t be happy there.

Search for facilities with outstanding reputations

When people go out of their way to express how wonderful a facility is, that’s a good sign. Complaints are more common than compliments. It takes exceptionally great service to extract compliments from people. If you find a facility residents and family members rave about, check it out.

Your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being depend on your willingness to thoroughly investigate every facility.