Protecting loved ones from nursing home abuse in Louisiana

Spotting the signs early and taking other steps may help people in Louisiana protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse.

When their loved ones require care that they cannot provide at home, people are often faced with the difficult decision to move their family members into eldercare facilities. Unfortunately, nursing home residents in Louisiana and elsewhere are often mistreated by those who they and their families have trusted to provide for their care. In fact, the National Institute on Aging reports that one out of 10 adults who are over the age of 60 have been abused, neglected or exploited financially. There are, however, steps that people can take to help protect their loved ones from such mistreatment.

Recognize the signs

Nursing home abuse may involve neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The physical indicators of abuse, such as broken bones, cuts and scrapes, bruises and other such injuries, may be easily identified. Other common signals of elder mistreatment, however, may be less obvious. These include the following:

· Bed sores

· Unattended medical needs

· Unusual or unexplainable malnutrition or dehydration

· Poor personal hygiene

· Abnormal anxiety, depression or behaviors

· Unusual or unexplainable withdrawal from previously enjoyed or normal activities

Recognizing signs of nursing home abuse may help people identify the mistreatment of their loved ones early. As such, they may immediately take steps to stop and remedy the abuse, protecting their family members from suffering any further harm.

Participate in care planning

Upon people's admittance to eldercare facilities, and often throughout their time there, the medical providers and staff members responsible for their care meet to develop a plan of care. These plans are used to maintain, restore or enhance a resident's physical and mental wellbeing. Family members are advised to ask to attend these meetings. This gives them a full understanding of the plan of care and allows them the opportunity to personalize their loved ones' needs and express any concerns or suggestions.

Visit regularly

Another important step people can take in order to protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse is to call and visit them often. In addition to assessing them for themselves and talking to them, people should ask the nursing home staff how their loved ones are doing. In order to ensure the staff cannot take measure to conceal signs of abuse or neglect, it is suggested that people change the days and times of their visits.

Report suspicions of mistreatment

Should people suspect their loved ones are being abused or mistreated, they should immediately report their suspicions. They may choose to address the issue at the lowest level, first speaking to the staff members involved or to the facility administrators. Should the facility fail to address and resolve the issue, people should file a report with the state's Elderly Protective Services. If their loved ones require emergency medical assistance or are in immediate danger, family members should call 911.

When nursing home residents in Louisiana and elsewhere suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of those charged with their care, they may suffer serious injuries, additional medical conditions or worsened health, or death. This may necessitate medical treatment and care, which comes with undue expenses. Depending on the situation, however, the staff members involved or nursing facilities where the abuse occurred may be held financially responsible. Thus, those whose loved ones have been mistreated in eldercare facilities may find it helpful to consult with an attorney to learn more about their rights and options.