Researchers have analyzed nursing home residents that get neglected and abused. Their research shows several risk factors that can increase neglect and abuse. Of course, this does not mean that just because your loved one exhibits one of these risk factors that they will definitely get neglected or abused. But, it is important to understand these risks so that you can help your loved one as much as possible.
Any elderly person could be the victim of neglect or abuse. But, there are a few factors that can increase an elderly person’s risk for neglect or abuse. One of these risk factors is memory loss. Does your loved one have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of memory loss? If so, you should be particularly alert to their treatment in a nursing home.
Some perpetrators of abuse see those with dementia as easy targets. This is because the victim is likely to forget the abuse. A nursing home employee might target those with memory issues. This is because the likelihood of the victim reporting the abuse is lower in these situations. If this is the case, it is important that you stay vigilant. You should check for warning signs of abuse each time you visit your parent. Many warning signs of neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse will be visible. Other types of abuse such as emotional abuse will be harder to identify. Still, it is important to make sure that you are comfortable with the nursing home that you have chosen. Remain present in your loved one’s life so that you can prevent or recognize any form of abuse.
Another factor that can increase the risk for neglect or abuse for a nursing home resident is having a disability. There are several reasons for this fact. One reason for this is that a physical or mental disability will make the resident more reliant. They become reliant on the assistance of the nursing staff. This can cause issues such as rough handling, verbal abuse, force-feeding, bedsores, and neglect based on the resident’s specific needs. Another reason that a disability can increase the risk for neglect and abuse is that a staff member of a nursing home may be aware that the resident will be unable to defend themselves.
Of course, a resident with a disability will not automatically be neglected or abused. However, your parent’s risk of neglect or abuse will increase if they have a disability.
It is more common for female nursing home residents to be neglected or abused than male nursing home residents. Again, this does not mean that men will not be abused in a nursing home. But women tend to be victims of certain types of abuse. This includes sexual and physical abuse, more often than men are. One reason for this statistic is that women are oftentimes physically more vulnerable than men. This means that if your female loved one is going to live in a nursing home, watch for neglect or abuse.
When it comes to types of abuse such as physical or sexual abuse, a nursing home resident’s financial situation probably will not be a major factor in the abuse. However, for other types of abuse, such as insurance fraud, healthcare fraud, or financial abuse, this can play a large role.
If your loved one is wealthy, or even just appears to be wealthy due to their expensive possessions, you should make sure that they are protected from fraud or any type of financial abuse. Be sure to keep valuables in a nursing home out of view. If possible, you should make sure that they are locked away. Refraining from talking about your loved one’s financial situation with the nursing staff can also protect your loved one from financial abuse.
Emotional and Mental State
Your loved one’s emotional stability can be a factor in abuse in a nursing home. Sometimes, nursing home employees target those who are different when it comes to neglect and abuse. The staff may force your loved one to become more unstable by withholding medication for depression or other mental illnesses, or provoking your loved one with emotional and physical abuse. Neglect and abuse for someone who is already dealing with mental instability will only make this worse.
Be sure to monitor your loved one’s emotional health consistently as they transition into life in the nursing home. Checking in to make sure that the care plan includes your loved one’s medication and that this medication is being provided will be important in keeping your loved one happy and healthy. If your loved one is suffering from a mental illness, by understanding that this is a risk factor for abuse, you can protect your loved one.
Loneliness can actually be a factor in neglect and abuse. Those who are having a difficult time transition to nursing home life can become targets for different types of abuse. Your loved one might be too trusting of the staff members due to their desire to make friends, which could lead to financial abuse. To prevent this situation, make sure that you encourage your loved one to make friends with other residents.
Having a social network within the nursing home will also ensure that people notice if your loved one is acting strangely or if there are clear signs of abuse. This awareness can assist your loved one in getting the help that they need. When you call your loved one, ask if they are making friends and developing a strong social life within the nursing home. To prevent loneliness, you can also visit the nursing home and call your loved one on a regular basis.
Some studies indicate that education level can play a part in the neglect and abuse of the elderly. Those with lower education levels, for example, residents who did not finish high school or did not go to college, tend to be victims of neglect and abuse more than residents with advanced degrees. Those who commit neglect and abuse tend to steer clear of those who may be well connected or those who will know how to handle neglect and abuse, such as former doctors, lawyers, professors, etc.