It is hard to watch a loved one decline in old age, particularly if your aging parent needs help you can’t give them on your own. You know you can’t work and care for them at the same time, so you move them to a nursing facility. This is the case for many Americans with elderly loved ones. Sometimes you have few choices of what facility to use because of proximity, Medicaid coverage or availability. You want to rest assured that your relative is taken care of, but how do you know if you can’t be with them all the time?
Finding help for the helpless
Elderly patients are amongst the most susceptible to neglect. They are often helpless at the mercy of the nursing staff. Unlike elder abuse, elder neglect often stems from that person’s immediate needs not being met. Your infirmed relative may not be able to communicate that the caregiver is mistreating them, so it is up to you to recognize the signs of elder neglect:
- Unacceptable hygiene: Bad hygiene can describe both the state of the facility as well as the condition of your loved one. If your loved one has not washed, they may have on the same clothes they had days before, unaddressed smells, teeth unbrushed, hair matted and dirty.
- Basic needs ignored: The signs that they are not meeting a loved one’s most basic needs (food, water, shelter), which might include weight loss, dehydration, hypothermia, or heat exhaustion.
- Inadequate medical treatment: For patients with chronic conditions, this can be an especially dire situation. A patient might not receive their medication regularly. They may be suffering the effects of improper medical attention, such as constant or untreated infections, bedsores, decreased joint motion from stationary positions, and untreated pain.
- Emotional distress: Changes in your loved one’s emotional state can be difficult to judge, especially if they are a patient suffering from degenerative mental disorders like dementia. Isolation, emotional abuse and emotional neglect can all contribute to a person’s emotional distress.
Looking out for your family
You want to make sure that your loved one is treated well in their new home or by live-in help. If they’re receiving the right treatment, they can better enjoy a long and productive life. If you suspect they show signs of neglect, contact a lawyer who specializes in elder law. An attorney can protect them when they need it the most.