We all love Grandma. We pay attention when she is not able to care for herself anymore, and as kids and grandkids, we do what we can to help her continue to live in her home.
But eventually, the time may come when she is taking too much time and effort away from other family responsibilities that the tough decision needs to be made that Grandma is better off being out of her house and in a nursing home where she can be tended to with everything she needs.
We can often do our best efforts to find a nursing home we can trust, for Grandmas’ sake. The grounds seem orderly, the administrator and shift leaders seem compassionate and caring, and so the paperwork gets signed and Grandma moves in for thousands of dollars a month.
After a few months, it is time to pay Grandma a visit to see how she is doing. You see her, and there is something not right about her. She looks different, is acting differently, and seems to look down and depressed. When you talk with her, she is very evasive about her experiences.
Without being there, you want to believe the best of the home, but you do ask yourself the question, Is this Grandma just getting old since she is not on her own anymore? Or could there be something distinctively wrong with her situation in the home?
Nursing home neglect
Nursing home neglect is very serious and, frankly, immoral. However, reports of neglect of residents in nursing homes have been pretty high for a number of years. Many of us don’t want to believe that the nursing home we pay thousands of dollars a month to, would actually treat our loved one harshly or negligently, but we can and should pay attention to some warning signs that Grandma may be in some danger and not just suffering from advancing age.
When you visit Grandma, look for these signs that may alert you to possible neglect, and get in touch with a quality elder-care attorney who can let you know of your rights and protections for Grandma:
Rights and Protections
Poor hygiene. If Grandma can’t bathe or clothe herself, and it looks like that hasn’t been done in a while, there may be a reason.
Dirty living space. Laws usually require facilities to provide clean beds, clean living areas, clean kitchens as close to infection- and infestation-free as possible. A dirty bathroom or bed sheets that don’t look clean could be a red flag.
Lack of food/liquids. If Grandma is always thirsty or seems to have lost weight, they could be signs of neglect because the staff may not be feeding her enough or providing enough liquids to keep her hydrated.
Not moving around well. Good nursing homes have programs in place to keep residents as active as possible, knowing that mobility and strength are maintained in order to keep residents healthy. If Grandma seems to struggle to move or has bed sores that indicate she has not been out of bed for long periods of time, it’s possible that staff members aren’t helping her stay active, so her muscles atrophy.
Odd boo-boos. Does Grandma have injuries on her that can’t be explained well? Any scratches, bruises or broken bones that seem to have flimsy excuses are a red flag, especially if Grandma refuses to talk about them when you ask.
Moody. If Grandma acts distant, doesn’t talk, seems to shy away from staff members in the room, or acts angry – and all of these are outside of her normal character – that could be a sign that the staff may have been emotionally or mentally abusive to Grandma and caused her to go deep into a shell.
A serious problem
Nursing home neglect is a serious problem in America, and it should never get shoved under the rug. If you or a family member has been in a nursing home and you notice any of these signs, it may be time to consult a qualified local elder-law attorney to investigate and bring your case out into the light to hold the nursing home accountable.
Protect Grandma and her human rights by addressing neglect aggressively. Getting advice from the right attorney will go a long way toward accountability and protection for Grandma so she can live out her final years with dignity.
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y Law. Yosi is an inspired, aggressive and successful advocate for his clients, especially those who have suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect. He is personally committed to making a difference in his clients’ lives. Nothing makes Yosi happier than getting his clients’ lives back on track.