Elder neglect and abuse is a hot-button issue in nursing homes across the country, and rightfully so. Should elder neglect and abuse be found within a nursing home there are many serious consequences that could result. An expensive, prolonged lawsuit, a review of the nursing home by a state licensing agency, and even the shutting down of a nursing home could result. Here are some questions you should ask yourself regarding this important issue:
1. Do I ever observe other employees or visitors hitting, slapping, or shaking a resident?
If you observe anything even remotely resembling hitting, slapping, or shaking it should be reported to your superiors immediately. Even if the situation has been misconstrued, it is better to report it so that all employees are properly educated about not doing anything that could compromise the health of the residents.
2. Do I ever notice the patient being withdrawn or sullen around certain caregivers?
This could possibly be a sign that the patient is being mistreated by this caregiver. Continue to keep your eyes and ears open for other instances and document them.
3. Does a patient ever seem to be over-medicated?
Look for this in your more unruly patients. Is one of your residents ever under a heavy dose of medication? Overmedicating a difficult patient is indeed a form of elder abuse because medication can to lead to uncomfortable side effects. Over-medication in order to control a patient’s behavior or outbursts is not an appropriate way to handle a difficult patient.
4. Is a patient ever ignored?
Ignoring a patient can be a form of nonverbal elder neglect if it has been used excessively. If a patient is being constantly ignored through their call button use, through their regular feeding times, or through a neglect of personal hygiene, this could be cause for concern.
5. Is every precaution made to prevent falls and other accidents from the patient?
When you are walking a patient, do you take precautions such as using more than one employee and using a gait belt? Never allow a patient to walk by themselves because the elderly often have limited balance.
If you desire to be “in the know” regarding abuse and neglect of elderly patients this list is a good start; however it is not meant to be exhaustive. Talk over how to best care for an elderly person with an experienced caregiver.