Ask Google, “How does it feel to place your parent in a nursing home?” and you’ll find the words “guilt” and “difficult” all over the screen. If you’ve ever placed a loved one in a nursing home, you likely share this sense of frustration. People often send their aging parents to nursing homes as a last resort, so it’s worrying to hear stories about elder abuse and neglect.
Two U.S. senators recently called attention to poor elder care by releasing a list of nearly 400 nursing homes that shared a “persistent record of poor care.” Six of these facilities are in Kentucky. It’s an eye-opening report, and it may prompt you to move your loved one or pay close attention for the signs of elder abuse.
Underperforming and potentially dangerous
The senators’ report clearly noted their report only counted a small fraction of America’s 15,700 nursing homes. Most homes never come anywhere near the list. They hire attentive staff and offer quality care. However, the senators noted that at the nation’s less reputable homes, residents were often neglected. They might languish in dirty and unsanitary conditions. Staff don’t give them proper nutrition. And some residents have been victims of sexual assaults and other physical abuse.
Of the six Kentucky facilities noted in the report, two are based in Louisville:
- Klondike Center
- Springhurst Health and Rehab
If you have relatives at either of these homes, there’s no guarantee they were mistreated. They may still have received reasonable care. But there’s a greater chance that these facilities would have let your loved one slip through the cracks.
Recognizing the signs of elder abuse and neglect
Just as the failing nursing homes may have given enough care for some of their residents, there’s a chance that staff at better homes may still fail their residents. National Public Radio recently reported that as many as one-third of all cases of potential nursing home neglect will go undocumented. That makes it more important that family members pay attention.
So how might you recognize signs of abuse or neglect? The National Institute on Aging lists several things to watch for, including:
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Sleeping problems
- Waning interest in favored activities
- Bruises, burns and scars
- Attitude changes, such as depression, violence, confusion or withdrawal
The National Institute on Aging also suggests that you talk with the resident. Ask what has been happening. Sometimes the problems may be with other residents and not the facility or its staff.
Help your family members get the treatment they deserve
Most people send their family members to nursing homes only when they don’t see other options. They see the homes as the best way to help their loved ones get the care they need. Most of the time, that’s what nursing homes end up offering. If you keep your eye open for signs of abuse, you can help your loved ones out of bad situations and make sure they get the respectful treatment they deserve.