Elderly abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is rampant. In a WHO study, a whopping 12% of nursing home employees stated that they committed at least one act of negligence or abuse in 2020. These numbers should be alarming to anybody, and if you care about a loved one you know who’s in assisted living, you should take all the steps to make sure that they live in a safe environment. There are also cases where the home in question is simply not a good fit for them. Let's take a look at a few signs that you should consider switching to assisted living facilities.
Changes in Attitude and Behavior
There are some cases when you can easily spot that there’s something wrong with your loved one. If they used to be happy but now seem to be stressed or even scared when some people come into the room, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Ask them if someone new has been hired and what they think of them. Listen to their answers carefully and read their body language. They might be trying to hide things out of fear of repercussions or because they don’t want to cause trouble. Any signs of psychological distress should be taken very seriously.
There are also cases when changes in behavior may be due to something else. For instance, a patient may start getting disoriented because they didn't get their medicine, or they got given too much. Sometimes they will look drowsy all the time. This can be a sign of medication overdose. If you suspect that this is the case, make sure that you double-check with them and the staff.
If you visit once or twice and you notice that the floors aren’t 100% clean, that is perfectly normal. But, if you start noticing weird smells when you walk around or in the bathrooms, this should definitely be cause for concern. This could be a sign that they’ re neglectful, but also that they’ re understaffed. Hygiene is something that you can’t afford to take lightly since there are so many communicable diseases that can spread in a care home.
Residents aren’t Treated with Dignity
We would suggest that you watch how the staff interacts with the residents when you visit. If you get a true sense of community and you notice that they speak with residents as if they were close friends or even family, then it’s a good sign.
Residents also need to have the privacy they deserve. You shouldn’t see people getting dressed or partly dressed in hallways or rooms in view of the public. Make sure that they’re spoken to in a respectful tone by the people treating them as well. Ask them their opinion on the staff and if they feel respected. They might also be able to tell you about some staff members that they like more than others. If you feel like some could eventually become dangerous, we would suggest you start looking at other options.
Physical Signs of Abuse
These can be very serious and should cause alarm. If you notice any scratches, bruises, or strange injuries, you have to ask them and the staff what happened. If the versions are conflicting, or if your loved one tries to play it off but won’t discuss details, this could be a sign that there’s foul play.
There are also cases when physical abuse is not visible. There have been cases of workers spitting on patients, for instance. This could be very difficult to tell. Think twice about installing cameras, however, as it may be illegal in certain states. Your only option, in this case, would be to have an investigation opened. This could give you a better idea of how seriously the home takes abuse, and hopefully get to the bottom of the situation.
At the end of the day, if your loved one is not happy where they are, you should consider switching places. Maybe they feel it's too far away from the city, or not far enough. Or maybe they hate the food. It could be anything, but you want them to flourish and be somewhere where they feel they belong. So, we would suggest you give other homes a look and see if any of them pique their interest. Also, speak about anything they would like to be better where they are so you can find a home that has everything they need.
Finding the Right Assisted Care Facility for them
Before you can make the switch, however, you need to make sure that you start looking for facilities and vetting them. You should have no problem finding a great one relatively quickly if you know what to look for, but you’ll want to visit them in person. Make a list of recommended assisted living homes in your area. If you’re looking for assisted living NJ, Brandywine Living is a great place to start as they’ve been in the community for years and have gained a reputation for stellar service.
When visiting, look at what residents and people with loved ones there have to say. Next, you need to start speaking with the staff and get an impression. It would also be a good time to start looking at the dynamic with the patients. Try to go on two different shifts as well.
We would also suggest that you start looking at what the hiring and vetting process is. You want to know if everyone in the facility gets a background check. You also have to know if the care home has come under fire in the past because of abuse cases or for violating regulations.
These are all signs that there might be something wrong with your loved one’s current assisted living home. Make sure to listen to them and keep an eye out for any indication that there might be some neglect or abuse issues.
If you are thinking about moving into assisted living or you have an elderly relative who needs more care while retaining their independence, this could be a great solution. However, it is important to know what to look out for when choosing the right facility. Consider the above points when on your search, and you should be able to find the right one for you.