Parents work hard to raise their families, making many sacrifices along the way to ensure that their kids have every opportunity to thrive. We grew up thinking they were able to do anything and often did to support us. So it can be hard to watch as those people go from being omnipotent to fragile. And while we'd like to think that they would be okay staying with us, this often isn't realistic because of their needs or the general pace of our day-to-day lives. Maybe dad has become forgetful and tends to wander off and get lost, or maybe mom is in a wheelchair and physically fragile.
One thing you can do is ensure that your parents are well cared for in the best possible facility in the price range that fits their budget. Then one day it seems that dad is very agitated. A talk with the staff reveals that he sometimes yells at the orderlies. That said it's their job to care for him all the same.
It's often part of the deal for those with dementia to get aggressive, but adult children with parents in facilities no doubt have noticed stories of nursing home abuse by caregivers who didn't treat the patients with the respect and dignity they deserve and are legally entitled to under the law.
Here are four kinds of red flags to look for when you visit.
Many of us bruise more easily as we age, but specifically look for restraint marks on their arms. Look for other bruising around the neck, face and genital areas, the latter the resulting from sexual abuse. Also check for wounds that have not been attended to and bedsores.
Mom insisted on keeping her credit cards, which you pay for from her bank account, for the weekly shopping excursions they take her on. Keep an eye out for unlikely purchases or a more generally an unexplained drain in the savings account.
General change in personality
This may be part of their aging process, but dad could be acting agitated for a reason.
Unclean and unkempt
Residents and their families pay for living spaces to remain clean and healthy with garbage and food removed in a timely fashion. Residents should be dressed in clean clothes. Watch out for weight loss, which may mean they aren't getting fed regularly or fed suitable food.
As our population continues to live longer and longer, there are more and more incidents of elder abuse: according to the NYC Department for the Aging, 76 out of every 1000 older New Yorkers suffer some form of abuse. Call 911 or notify New York's Adult Protective Service because the state has stiff penalties for elderly abuse by an individual or institution. At this time it's also a good idea to contact an attorney knowledgeable in nursing home abuse to discuss such remedies as monetary awards for damages and possible dismissal of the culprit if appropriate.