Many nursing homes are cited each year for failing to care for their residents properly. Elder abuse is one of the most common concerns of family members when they place a loved one into one of these facilities. To avoid the potential for abuse some families opt for at-home care. This is an often beneficial option for people because they stay in the home they love and get the undivided attention from their caregiver. Unfortunately, this does not mean that abuse and neglect do not happen at home. It is just as important to remain involved in the care and to report any signs of abuse.
How does abuse differ with at-home care?
There are many similarities between the abuse that occurs in nursing homes and with in-home caregivers. This includes physical assaults and the lack of personal hygiene, but there are additional concerns that arise when the care is at home. There is the possibility of theft of personal items, theft of medications, or unapproved access to the bank accounts of the client.
What are the warning signs of abuse?
There are a number of signs to watch for to determine if a loved one is receiving the care they need. Missed doctor appointments, too-frequent refills of certain medications, and bills suddenly not being paid are signs that the caregiver is neglectful, or potentially stealing from the patient. A change in behavior when the caregiver is around may indicate the elderly individual is afraid. Unusual injuries attributed to falls or other accidents are a sign of potential abuse. Watch for missing valuables and keep track of their credit in case the caregiver attempts to steal their personal information for loan or credit applications.
Can neighbors or friends report a concern?
Close neighbors and friends are often the first to see suspicious behavior or notice the change in their friend. In situations like this it is common for people to cancel social engagements or withdraw from their relationships with others out of depression, embarrassment, or fear. Mention any concerns to trustworthy family members, but also contact the local office of Adult Protective Services.
The best protection available is thoroughly reviewing every at-home care company before hiring anyone. Choose an established organization with a record of providing excellent care. Make certain they drug screen and run background checks on all employees and require that all caregivers be fully trained and certified before they begin. If neglect is discovered, contact Adult Protective Services immediately and contact a lawyer familiar with nursing home neglect and elder abuse. Their services help to recover any financial losses the individual experiences and makes it possible to force the closure of companies with a history of abusive employees.