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Three signs to look for when touring a nursing home

If you are faced with helping a parent transition to a nursing home, you may have reservations about the type of care he or she may receive. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are still legitimate concerns in some situations. However, you can help your parent choose a safe nursing home by touring his or her favorite options and being on the lookout for any negative signs about the care provided in those facilities.

Are there strong odors?

When you first walk into a nursing home you may notice that the building has a certain odor. While some amount of odor is unavoidable, a strong odor may indicate a problem. Bad odors may indicate the facility is not cleaned properly or that incontinent residents may not have their adult diapers changed often enough. However, when a building has a powerfully good smell, it may indicate a problem is being hidden.

Do you hear negative interactions?

If you hear staff members referring to residents by generic names, like “Grandma,” it could be a sign that the staff do not respect or take the time to get to know the residents. If you hear staff members being rude to each other or gossiping, it may be safe to assume they are also rude and disrespectful to the residents.

Do you see suspicious bruising on any residents?

Not all bruises are signs of abuse. However suspiciously shaped bruises or bruises in illogical locations should raise red flags. Bruises that are hand or finger shaped should be suspicious, as should bruises in areas that are unlikely to be bruised in a fall.

Follow up with appropriate questions.

Be sure to ask numerous questions during your tour, or follow up with questions after the tour. The National Institute on Aging recommends also making an unannounced second visit to interact with different staff members and see different activities.

Some questions to consider asking, include:

  • How often are adult diapers are checked and changed?
  • How does the nursing home respond when a resident falls?
  • How often are activities offered to the residents?
  • How long have the various department heads worked at the nursing home?

If you think abuse or neglect may be happening at a nursing home, it is important to advocate on behalf of your parent and other venerable residents who may be affected. Often, the first step may be to share your concerns with the facility’s administration or report the suspected abuse to the New Mexico Adult Protective Services division. However, legal action may be an appropriate next step in some situations.

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