Tips for protecting loved ones from nursing home abuse in Kentucky

Nursing home abuse occurs all too often, however, by taking certain steps, people may be able to protect their loved ones.

Many people in Louisville, and throughout Kentucky, make the decision to put loved ones in nursing homes. When they do so, they believe their family members will receive the respect and care they deserve. All too often, however, nursing home residents are abused by those who are charged with their care, which may result in serious injuries or death. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 44 percent of the 2,000 nursing home residents interviewed in one study reported suffering abuse. While not all abuse may be prevented, the tips discussed here may help people to protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse.

Know the signs

Perhaps one of the most important things people can do to protect their family members from nursing home abuse is to know what signs to watch out for. Some physical injuries, including bruises, cuts and broken bones, may be noticeable red flags, particularly when they are unexplained. However, other injuries, such as bedsores, unexplained depression or withdrawal, sudden weight loss or gain, and unusual listlessness, may be less obvious signs. Additionally, changes in personal hygiene may also signal abuse is occurring. Should people's loved ones begin to display these signs of mistreatment, it may be important for them to investigate further.

Listen to nursing home residents

Sometimes, the best sources of information regarding potential nursing home abuse are nursing home residents themselves. For that reason, it is important for people to listen to their loved ones. Nursing home residents may tell family members that they have been abused or are otherwise being mistreated.

In some cases, nursing home residents may be unable, or choose not to, disclose abuse, even to their loved ones. By listening closely, however, people may still learn that a loved one is being abused. Nursing home residents may share changed feelings, or feelings of mistrust, regarding particular caregivers, or the facility itself, which may signal abuse.

Vary visitations

Many people like to keep regular schedules, which extends to when they visit family members in their nursing homes. By always visiting on the same days at the same times, however, it allows nursing home staff the opportunity to hide signs of elder mistreatment. Therefore, people should visit on different days and at different times, so that the staff will not know when they need to ensure things appear in order.

Report suspicions

It is also important for people to report their concerns when they suspect a loved one is being abused in a nursing home. The Kentucky Office of the Attorney General suggests first contacting the facility's management or social worker. If the issue is not properly investigated or addressed at that level, people may notify Adult Protective Services, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the Attorney General or their local long-term care ombudsman. If the threat of harm is immanent, or immediate assistance is needed, people should notify their local law enforcement agency or call 911.

Seek legal counsel

When people in Kentucky fall victim to nursing home abuse, they may suffer serious injuries that require medical treatment and care. As a result, they may incur undue medical expenses. Depending on the circumstances, however, the caregiver responsible or the facility itself may be held liable for the resulting damages. Therefore, it may benefit those who have experienced situations such as this to consult with an attorney. A legal representative may help them understand their rights, as well as their options for seeking financial compensation.