Entrusting your parents to a nursing home can be a frightening prospect, even if you know that they will benefit from around-the-clock care. The stigma around nursing homes is very often undeserved, as their facilities are designed to take care of older adults with problems that are difficult to treat at home. But elder abuse is a significant problem in the United States, and you, understandably, want to make sure that your older adult will be treated with the love and kindness they deserve.
Fortunately, there are ways to be sure your loved ones will be secure.
What is Elder Abuse?
Before we talk about how to avoid the problem of elder abuse, it’s best that we define it so we have a common understanding of what it is and how to recognize it. According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. Violence of this type is a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect.” In short, elder abuse can take various forms but always boils down to someone taking advantage of an older adult from a position of power.
How Commonly are Older Adults Abused?
Unfortunately, this kind of abuse is not uncommon in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 1 in 6 older adults experience elder abuse, and it is far more likely for older adults in institutions such as nursing homes to encounter it.
By no means does this mean you should reconsider your decision to put your older adult in a nursing home, as they may still have facilities that will provide the best care for your older adult. But it’s essential to be aware that this is a risk that your older adult may face. The prevalence of this problem, especially in nursing homes, makes it all the more important to take necessary steps to avoid facilities that employ abusers and keep your older adult safe.
What Can I Do to Keep My Loved Ones Safe?
While searching for a nursing home that will keep your older adult happy and safe, there are some things you should consider to avoid the ones that won’t:
- Take a look at their hiring processes. You want to make sure that whichever facility you choose has staff that has been trained properly, are kind and attentive, and have systems in play that watch for abusive behavior. If they’re hiring people without the qualifications or the demeanor necessary to care for your loved ones, that facility is not right for you.
- Make sure they allow your loved one as much independence as possible. As your parents get older, it can be hard for them to cope with the loss of their faculties; therefore, it is essential that where they can have the freedom to do things for themselves, your selected facility allows them to. While often overlooked, this one tip will make sure your older adult’s mental health goes on strong, as well as their physical.
- Pick a facility you can visit often. This is perhaps the most important tip on this list, aside from improving your older adult’s mental health (as they aren’t too far from family and frequent visits, whether for holidays, regular visits, special occasions, will help them stay healthier longer), it also allows you to check for signs of elderly abuse. If any form of malpractice or neglect occurs while you aren’t around, you’ll be more likely to know.
Finally, it’s also a good idea to have resources on hand in case your older adult does suffer abuse at the hands of their caregivers. These resources can provide more information on the signs of elder abuse and help you seek justice for your older adult should you need to.
Making the Right Choice
Elder abuse is a significant problem in the United States, but the purpose of this article isn’t to make you jump at shadows and keep your older adult from the care they need. Rather, its purpose is to raise your awareness of a common problem, teach you how to find a facility that will treat your older adult the way they deserve, and make the transition as stress-free as possible.
Knowing about the problem of elder abuse, and how to recognize facilities that won’t treat your older adult with respect, will make it that much easier to find your older adult a facility that will give them all the love and care they need.