We hope to be able to care for our loved ones as they age, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes, our parents require more care than we are able to provide. That’s when we find a good – or what we hope is good – nursing home facility to give our loved ones the care they need.
Unfortunately, nursing homes aren’t always the safest or best places for our loved ones.
Many of us have heard terrible stories from friends and family in the States with loved ones who were abused or neglected by nursing home staff. And that problem is spreading here in Israel as well.
Earlier in the year, police released video of elderly nursing home residents – some in their 90s – being abused at nursing homes. A number of instances of violence were witnessed, including using unnecessary force, pulling hair and throwing dirty towels at residents. Some smothered elderly residents with pillows.
Four employees of a Haifa nursing home were found guilty of “attacks against the helpless” and aggravated assault. They will serve one-and-a-half years in prison, although the court had sought terms of 5-7 years. The four will also pay compensation to their victims, with sums ranging from NIS 3,000 to 15,000.
In this nursing home, video footage revealed that residents were sleeping on urine-stained mattresses and going days on end without being washed. Others were seen being beaten on camera.
Of course, these are extreme cases. Most facilities provide quality care, but we must be vigilant in protecting our loved ones.
As children, what can we do to keep our loved ones safe? Yes, the government is cracking down on nursing home abuse, but we also need to take responsibility for our loved ones.
First, know the signs of abuse and neglect. Signs and symptoms of nursing home neglect include:
- Poor hygiene
- Weight loss
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Untreated health issues
Sometimes, nursing home patients will isolate themselves or refuse to talk to or about the staff. These can be subtler signs of abuse, particularly verbal abuse.
If you notice any signs of abuse or neglect, talk to the nursing home staff immediately and the administrator of the facility. If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call the police.
The biggest step you can take to protect your loved one is to stay in touch. Unfortunately, many people put their parents and other aging loved ones in nursing homes, and rarely visit. Make it a point to see your loved one on a regular basis. When you see your loved one often, you can pick up on subtler signs that something is off or wrong.
Another important thing: make sure that your loved one still has a social life. Many seniors are isolated in nursing homes, so ensure they participate in social events and spend time with family.
If your loved one isn’t being properly cared for, don’t hesitate to move him or her to a new nursing home. Keep a close eye on your loved one and his or her behavior. If things seem off, trust your gut and investigate further.