Social Work Programs

August 28, 2009

Nursing Home Abuse: Elderly Care Problems

Filed under: nursing home abuse — Tags: — admin @ 11:45 pm

Nursing home abuse is reported in the news and if you are placing your parent or loved one in a facility, it’s important to check out the home and ask good questions. I have been saddened hearing in my counseling sessions some very heartbreaking stories of neglect.

When you go to check out a facility for your parent, relative or spouse pay attention to how the nursing staff responds to residents. You will be getting a tour and a lot of attention but are the existing residents getting responses from staff when they approach a desk or employee with questions?

How do residents feel about the food at the facility? Eating is one of the important areas of each day. Are residents pleased with the food? Can you speak to any residents individually to find out their feelings about the facility, care and other factors? Keep in mind that there may be senility, anger and other factors that influence someone's response. On the other hand if there truly is nursing home abuse, you want to be aware of this.

Look at the expressions of the staff? Do they look happy, overworked or burnt out? Does it look like there is enough staff for the number of residents or is the proportion off? What are the needs of your spouse, relative or parent? Will they require a lot of care and are they able to voice their concerns to staff?

As a social worker, I have always advised people to take the tour of a facility but also go back at another time to see what it looks like during meal time , activity time and other parts of the day. When you first go, you probably will be thinking a lot of costs and looking at the room etc. But return a second and third time to really review everything at the facility.

Nursing home abuse can cover a variety of areas from being spoken to abruptly to malnutrition, bed sores and neglected medical care. Of course, physical, mental or physical abuse is the biggest fear and worst offense. Find out what the screening is for staff. Victims of nursing home abuse cannot always speak up about it. They may feel intimidated by staff, afraid of worrying their children, unable to see theft or other activities due to eye issues or general fear. Fortunately there are lots of regulations that should be followed to be in legal compliance. Encourage your parent, spouse or friend at a facility to speak to you immediately about any problems and to not be afraid to voice concerns. This situation can be complex because oftentimes a senior citizen may prefer to be living at a condo or house rather than facility so this can also create exaggerations.

The director of the facility should be informed of any nursing home abuse and the state notified as well depending on the severity. Even if you are unsure about whether your parent is exaggerating the situation, it is good to speak with staff on this issue.


  1. It isn’t always easy to tell if it’s elder neglect due to the staff or the person’s own state of mind. My mother-in-law wanted us to report elder abuse and get a nursing home abuse attorney but it really seemed like she didn’t want to get out of bed and that’s part of why she had bed sores and some malnutrition. When we visited her to take her out for lunch she didn’t want to go and we couldn’t get her to take a shower. It is hard to know if she was mistreated by the employees of the nursing home or if after several times of coaxing her to eat, join activities and shower etc they just would stop. How do you know when you should report elder abuse to california or not?

    Comment by Miriam — September 1, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  2. I just wanted to say that the nursing home pictures on the website can be deceptive. My mom’s place was under construction in a lot of places but it didn’t say that on the site. And when we met the director, the nursing home questions we had were really skipped over and he kept talking about the bingo games and things my mom had no interest in.

    Comment by Jan — September 3, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  3. My grandma was in a nursing home , or maybe it was an assissted living facility, but she said they woke her up at 5 am to give her a shower and that she was handled to rough by staff because they were in a rush to go to next person’s room. She lost weight there and had bed sores. I don’t know if it was elder abuse but we changed facilities.

    Comment by Amy — September 7, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  4. Elder abuse neglect is a serious problem in these places. The staff gets paid little and I see them texting a lot and not paying attention to my mom or the other residents at the assisted living facility. I feel bad for all of them, mostly my mom but also the people that work for 7 dollars an hour too.

    Comment by Walter — September 22, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

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