Make it your job to check on your elderly relatives. Visit them often to be sure that they’re receiving quality treatment. By following these steps, you can prevent nursing home abuse and identify problems before they impact your loved one’s well-being.
1. Visiting Diligently
Visiting your relatives regularly is the most important step that you can take to ensure quality care and spot potential abuse. You have known your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all of your life. You are familiar with their personalities, and you can probably tell if they are depressed or unhappy. Changes are easier to detect if you visit frequently. You may notice that your relative seems especially quiet or isolated. Visits may reveal other warning signs, such as cuts, bruises, bedsores, weight loss or poor hygiene.
2. Checking Medical Records
Older family members who are in poor health need to have appropriate estate planning documents in place. Two important items from a medical perspective are a power of attorney for health care and a HIPAA release. When parents or grandparents need extra attention, these documents allow loved ones to access medical records and participate in health care decisions. Without a HIPAA release, the nursing home will prevent you from accessing medical records even if you just want to transfer the charts to another physician. Medical records can show warning signs of abuse and neglect. Reviewing patient charts is an effective way to identify serious problems and deficiencies like multiple falls due to a lack of supervision or inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications to restrain residents. You need access to these medical records to see what is going on when you aren’t there.
3. Talking About Mistreatment
Older folks don’t report abuse for a variety of reasons ranging from embarrassment to feelings that they are burdening their family. This reluctance is a barrier that prevents abuse from being detected and reduced. It’s likely that your relatives won’t report abuse or neglect. That’s why it’s important for you to step up, to discover what’s happening and to make a report. If you ask a relative how the nursing home is, you may not get an accurate reply. Suspected abuse and neglect should be reported to the authorities in Georgia. Talk to a staff member who has been responsive and helpful. Work with a long-term care ombudsman to address the problem.
If you need additional assistance, an elder abuse attorney can help. Nursing homes are unwilling to take responsibility for the pain that they cause. It takes aggressive representation to fight these companies and recover compensation that can make life better for your beloved relatives. It’s never too early to report suspected abuse, but it can be too late.
Mike Prieto is an experienced elder abuse attorney who established our firm’s nursing home abuse practice area, which is one of the largest in Georgia. Call Slover, Prieto, Marigliano & Holbert LLC at 404-856-0040 to discuss your situation with Mr. Prieto.