Protecting West Palm Beach Nursing Home Residents With Dementia from Abuse
Gregg Hollander | September 15, 2022 | Nursing Home Abuse
According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, approximately 83.5 percent of U.S. nursing home residents are over the age of 65. This population is physically and financially vulnerable and prone to abuse at the hands of family and caretakers.
Those older Americans who live in nursing homes may also have dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that about 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, a disease that leads to dementia. This puts already-vulnerable older Americans at even greater risk of becoming victims of abuse.
Why Are Nursing Home Residents With Dementia Abused?
It may seem unfathomable that people would abuse and take advantage of vulnerable older people, especially when they are family members or when it is their job to care for them. However, some people do see nursing home residents with dementia as easy targets for exploitation.
The most common symptom of dementia, memory loss, emboldens some to take advantage of dementia patients. If the person cannot remember who their family members are or what property they have, or if they can’t even recognize where they are, it is unlikely that they will report any abuse or neglect.
Protecting Your Loved One from Nursing Home Abuse
It falls to the family members of elderly Americans to be vigilant and look for signs that their loved one is being abused. This is not easy, especially when your loved one may not be able to communicate with you comfortably.
Fortunately, some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse can be detected without speaking to your loved one at all.
Look for Suspicious Injuries and Questionable Explanations
Some nursing home staff members may feel inclined to physically abuse residents with dementia. Employees may feel impatient or frustrated while trying to handle the resident’s dementia symptoms. They may strike, slap, or kick a resident, or they may attempt to choke them.
Look for strange or unexplained injuries that appear on your loved one’s body. Be alert if your loved one appears to wince or grimace if you touch a certain part of their body, like an arm or a leg. If you notice any new injuries, ask staff for explanations. Be suspicious if your loved one has suddenly started experiencing frequent “falls.”
Check Their Accounts and Seek To Become Their Guardian
If you are the contact person listed on your loved one’s admissions paperwork, you should be able to request an account statement for your loved one. This should show their current balance as well as deposits and withdrawals affecting their account.
If the account statement does not seem correct, or if there are transactions you do not recognize, bring your concerns to the attention of the nursing home. If you do not get satisfactory answers, do not hesitate to report the matter to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.
You should also consider becoming your loved one’s legal guardian so you can handle their financial affairs and make decisions on their behalf.
Staying Involved With Your Loved One Can Prevent Nursing Home Abuse
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting for you and other family members. Nonetheless, when they are in this vulnerable and fragile state, they need you more than ever.
Remain involved in your loved one’s life, even if they do not recognize you or seem to acknowledge your presence. By doing so, you communicate to others in the nursing home your care and attention toward your loved one. This can help deter nursing home staff members from attempting to make your loved one an abuse victim.
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