Placing a parent in a care facility is a difficult and emotional decision. But as hard as it is to accept, sometimes the thing your loved one needs most is to receive constant care—and a nursing home is often the only way to provide that care. Making this decision can bring up all kinds of feelings: Are you doing the right thing? Will the parent feel “put away” when all you want to do is make sure they’re safe?
Once the parent is at the nursing home, worry for your loved one doesn’t just end. Rather, it shifts: What if they don’t receive proper care?
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that approximately 95 percent of residents have either experienced or witnessed nursing home neglect. How can you protect your parent from harm?
Here are the top red flags to watch for:
- Poor hygiene. If your parent needs help with personal care, and it’s not happening, this qualifies as neglect. Hygiene is a basic need. They need to have their teeth brushed, to shower or bathe regularly and get their hair seen to. These things are vital to a sense of wellbeing and basic dignity but failure to take care of these needs can also lead to health and emotional problems.
- Disorderly living conditions. If your loved one’s room—or other areas of the home—are unsanitary—this is unacceptable. In a nursing home, rooms should be cleaned regularly, and bedding should be changed on a frequent schedule. Bathrooms should be kept clean and tidy.
- Inadequate nutrition. If your parent is losing weight or appears to be suffering from dehydration, this is cause for concern. This could either be an indication that the home is failing to provide adequate food, or that the parent is depressed, which may or may not be related to the treatment they receive.
- Loss of mobility. If your parent is declining rapidly, it may be a sign that the nursing home is failing in their duties. Good care facilities create programs that keep residents active. Does the care facility you chose have such programs? It’s something to consider.
- If your parent experiences a fall or has unexplained bruises, this is a troubling sign that should be discussed and investigated. It could indicate neglect or even abuse.
- Psychological issues. While a life change is difficult for anyone, psychological changes of a drastic nature could also indicate neglect or abuse.
It’s important to be in constant communication with parents who are in nursing homes, as often they are not in a position to speak up for themselves when mistreated. They may be ignored. They may even be scared. They may be the parent, but you’ve become the responsible adult in this scenario. Watch for these red flags to protect the one you love and take steps if you feel your parent is suffering neglect.