If you suspect that an elderly or disabled loved one may be experiencing abuse in a nursing home, you may experience a swirl of emotions. You may feel fear for your loved one, uncertainty, anger, sadness, or guilt. You can sort through your emotions later, but now you have to take action to keep your loved one safe. Here are some things you can do, as well as some things you should avoid.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, you should take certain actions right away:
- DO act quickly if you believe your loved one is in a life-threatening emergency. Your first priority should be to remove him or her from the situation in the interest of his or her safety.
- DO make records of any troubling signs that lead you to suspect abuse. This includes behavioral changes as well as physical signs, such as bruises. Describe what you observe in writing and take photographs, if possible.
- DO know where to report the abuse. As a nursing home abuse lawyer like one from David & Philpot P.L. can explain, every state has an adult protective services agency and a long-term care ombudsman whose jobs are specifically to protect vulnerable adults from abuse. There may also be a nursing home abuse hotline that you can call to make your report.
- DO trust your instincts. If you think that something is wrong, it probably is.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, there are some actions you should avoid. Not only are they not in your loved one’s interest, but they could actually make the situation worse:
- DON’T hesitate to report the abuse. Everyone has an obligation to try to help vulnerable persons who may be mistreated, and that means reporting it as soon as possible.
- DON’T ignore the signs. Don’t wait to see if the situation improves on its own. Chances are it won’t, and you could put your loved one in greater danger by trying to take a wait-and-see approach.
- DON’T investigate the potential abuse yourself. Your job is not to determine whether abuse is happening; it is to make the report to the people who have the responsibility to make that determination.
- DON’T think that you have to deal with this situation alone. Enlist the help of your loved one’s doctor, other family members, or anyone involved in your loved one’s care whom you deem trustworthy.
If you have legal questions about your loved one’s situation, one of our attorneys may be of assistance as well.