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You may hear stories of nursing home abuse every day in the news. You may have followed some of the recent celebrity stories or even seen local stories of nursing home abuse on the Atlanta news.  It’s hard to believe these things can happen here, so close to home.  In fact, if your elderly parent or loved one is in a nursing home, you may think they are safe from harm because she or he has not complained and you have seen no obvious signs of trauma. However, you should not wait for your loved one to draw your attention to problems that may already exist. There is always the possibility that your parent is suffering at the hands of his or her caregiver. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to take a closer look yourself when you visit.

There are many reasons that you want to do a closer look into your loved one’s living arrangement and caregiving.  First of all, many of our seniors cannot communicate efficiently when there is a problem.  Many feel that this is the only place to go and therefore, speaking out is not an option.  Some are intimidated or threatened by the nursing home staff.  Some do not want to be a burden to others and finally, many just simply do not recall due to dementia, Alzheimers, or overmedication by abusive nursing home staff.

Check for Nursing Home Abuse

Visit Regularly

The first way to keep an eye on things is to visit regularly.  You will only be able to tell if things are going on if you know there are changes from one visit to the next.  If your parent’s attitude changes and you haven’t been to see him or her in months, it will be much more difficult to determine when it occurred and the reason behind the change.

Reasons for Visiting

You know your parents better than anyone.  If there is abuse or neglect (neglect is a form of abuse) taking place, there could be reasons they are not vocalizing it.  Remember that they have to continue to live there after you leave.  Some times speaking can seem to make things worse and unfortunately, one of the most common control tactics of abusive nursing home personnel is the use of intimidation.  This can be physical or emotional which leaves the resident feeling as if their dilemma will only worsen if they speak out.

You may notice notice subtle changes in your loved one such as immediately changing the subject when you ask about their wellbeing – especially if he or she used to complain but no longer wants to discuss their living situation.

To make sure the communication channel is always open, you should stress that health, happiness and their welfare are your top priorities.  Explain to your

parents or loved ones that they can come to you with their concerns about the location, their care givers, medical issues and more.  Your parents need to know that you love them and you are there to support them so that they do not feel as though they are only a burden now to you – just an inconvenience in your life.  Only when they understand that will they open up and tell you if things are not quite right.

Finally, as our parents get older, they may begin to forget details.  However, another problem with abusive nursing home staff is the use of medications to sedate patients.  This makes it even harder to recall incidents or neglect.

Withholding, altering or giving incorrect medication can have fatal consequences.  If you notice a sudden confusion, lethargy or overall change of behavior, physical appearance in your mother or fathers, you should act.

Act Immediately

Every patient has rights.  Here in Georgia, we utilize the following statutes:  O.C.G.A. §31-8-103 through §31-8-121, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities”.  These rights protect patients.  If you feel that your mother, father or other loved one is not being cared for properly in a nursing home or other care facility, do not wait to act.  Waiting can be fatal.  Contact our office so that David Crawford can work directly with you on the details.  David has the experience, the passion and the legal knowledge to work with you and guide you towards a solution for you and your family.

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