Receiving compassionate and quality care is important to people as they grow older. Many turn to nursing homes as a way to receive quality care, but the standards of nursing homes can vary widely.
California has approximately 110,000 people living in around 1,300 licensed nursing homes, according to the California Department of Justice. California is also projected to have one of the largest growth rates in the elderly population by 2025.
However, authorities reported in 2009 that 13% of all complaints reported to the California Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman were relating to the elder abuse or neglect. This number was about twice as much as the national rate. If you are considering placing a loved one in a nursing home, there are a few steps you can take to prevent nursing home and elder abuse.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Although the numbers in California may seem surprising, nursing home abuse, which can include physical, emotional or sexual abuse, is an issue across the nation. Abuse can be especially prevalent among those in the elderly population with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
California law places standards on nursing homes, and some federal agencies also stipulate standards that nursing homes need to adhere to. Some of the basic requirements include ensuring the healthcare of all nursing home patients through therapy and care, and helping elderly persons maintain physical, mental and psychological wellbeing.
How Can I Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?
There are a couple of different steps you can take in order to be proactive and prevent abuse.
- Proper vetting: Before hiring a caretaker or placing your loved one in a nursing home, review criminal background checks, abuse registries and logs of complaints in order to see if there are any issues or warning signs. You or an attorney could also follow up on any references, or reach out to others who may have had a family member at a certain nursing home.
- Plan accordingly: Ensure the individual who is in a nursing home has their legal documentation sorted. If an elderly patient does not have proper safeguards relating to power or attorney or living wills, they might be an easier target for exploitation or financial extortion.
- Watch for warning signs: Tension with caregivers in a nursing home, an abrupt shift in the elder’s personality, or even injuries and signs of restraint may be a warning sign for some sort of abuse. Keep your eyes open by visiting your loved one unannounced if they are in a nursing home.
If you suspect abuse in a nursing home setting, the first thing you need to do is ensure that your loved on is safe. Next, contact local authorities and let them know of your suspicions. If is only through reporting that we can reduce the instances of elder abuse in California.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, call our office today for a free evaluation of your case at 888-806-6722.