Deciding to place a family member in a nursing home or similar assisted living facility is often difficult. You want your loved one to receive excellent care and have a high quality of life. However, if they have medical issues, such as mobility limitations or Alzheimer's, you may not be able to care for them at home any more.
The only thing more heartbreaking than needing to put your parent into a nursing home is realizing that they are being mistreated, abused, or neglected in the facility where they are living. If you believe a loved one is experiencing elder abuse, you should take immediate action.
What are the signs of elder abuse?
You probably did everything you could think of to find a safe and comfortable nursing home for your ailing parent. However, when you visit, there could be tell tale signs that things aren't as good for your parent as you hoped. There may be bruising or abrasions that don't match with staff explanations. Staff may refuse to leave you alone with your parent, hovering nearby to make sure nothing is disclosed. Your parent may also exhibit signs of trauma, including changes in behavior, humor, or confidence as a result of bullying and emotional abuse.
There's also the possibility of financial abuse, where your loved one is being extorted, stolen from, or convinced to give money to people who work at the nursing home. Though it's horrifying to consider, some of those living in nursing homes are sexually abused as well, with predators often targeting those that can't report the abuse, such as dementia patients or those with similar degenerative conditions. Alternatively, your loved one could display signs of neglect, including dehydration, starvation, bed sores, or even sitting in soiled undergarments for long periods.
What to do if you believe your parent is being abused
If your parent is displaying any of these signs or has plainly said they are being mistreated or stolen from, you need to act in their defense. You may choose to make a report to South Carolina Adult Protective Services to start an official inquiry. If possible, it's in your loved one's best interest to secure him or her a safer place to stay until the situation is resolved. You should also contact an experienced personal injury and malpractice attorney who can help your family decide the best way to proceed.
An attorney who understands the seriousness of elder abuse and what options are available to those whose loved ones have been neglected or mistreated can advocate for your family. They can also see to it that the nursing home or staff members responsible for the neglect or abuse are held responsible for their actions by filing a civil suit. An attorney will help your family find a way to recover after this serious betrayal of your trust and your parent's human rights.