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Substandard nursing home care is never acceptable

Your parent may be one of thousands in Massachusetts who recently transitioned to an assisted living facility. Hopefully, you were able to carefully research and visit numerous nursing homes before choosing a good fit for your loved one. Then again, perhaps you loved everything about the first one you checked out and signed an agreement without looking at any other facilities. Either way, you and your family member will likely face various challenges as you both adapt to his or her new lifestyle.

If your parent has specific medical needs or a physical or mental condition that impedes his or her ability to function independently, you'll undoubtedly rely heavily on staff members to provide the attention and care he or she needs on a daily basis. There will likely be good days and some bad; however, one bad day, or even a bad week, doesn't necessarily mean staff members aren't doing their jobs. There are signs, however, that should raise your concerns regarding possible neglect or abuse.

Stay alert and know where to seek support

Part of the reason your loved one had to move into a nursing home may have been that your own job or daily family obligations keep you from being able to visit as often as you'd like and as often as your parent needs someone to be on hand to help with personal hygiene, eating or mobility. Once you entrust his or her care to licensed professionals, you should not be noticing any of the following issues:

  • Unsanitary living, eating or socializing areas: It warrants further investigation if your parent's living quarters are dirty or you visit the community and activities rooms and it appears unclean. It's critical that staff members are adhering to all health and safety regulations regarding cooking and dining areas.
  • Unexplained marks or injuries: It's definitely not uncommon for elderly people to become unstable in their gaits or to bruise a bit more easily than they did when they were young. Any unexplained body mark, laceration, swollen area or bruise, however, is definite cause for concern.
  • Loved one seeming afraid or irritated: Your family member is bound to have some days that are better than others. If he or she appears nervous or frightened and is highly irritable beyond what is typical to his or her personality, you may have to question staff members about it.
  • Loved one appears disheveled: While no one expects nursing residents to look as though they're ready to visit a five-star gala, they should appear clean and well-cared for. If your parent smells of urine or feces or has not received assistance in daily habits, such as combing hair or brushing teeth, it may be a sign of neglect.

It sometimes helps to strike up conversations with other nursing home visitors to ask whether they are satisfied with the care staff members are providing their loved ones. If other people have similar concerns to yours, you may want to join efforts to further investigate the situation. It's not always possible to protect an elderly parent from neglect or abuse if you're unaware that it's happening but there are definite resources you can tap into to address any problem that comes to light.

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