Many people with someone in a nursing home ask the same question: is Grandma (or Grandpa) alright?
This is a harder question to answer than it might at first seem. After all, nursing homes are the place where people’s health can be expected to deteriorate. No one goes to a nursing home who is expected to recover. No one goes to a nursing home who is capable of taking care of themselves. Their bodies have grown weak. Often, their minds have as well.
It is a sad fact that the human body fails near the end of life, and nursing homes are tasked with helping such people find as much comfort as possible in those final months and years.
So, if Grandma has gone to a nursing home already in poor health, perhaps with her mind in less than ideal condition, how can someone know if she is probably taken care of?
The question is an unfortunate one to have to ask at all, but cases of nursing home abuse do occur, even if they are rare. It is important to remain vigilant. But what are you looking for?
The most obvious sign is a sudden and unexpected decline in health. This does not, in and of itself, prove anything, but if the decline is not related to any particular health issue, it could be a sign that Grandma is being mistreated somehow.
Also, watch out for unusual bruises or other marks. While the elderly do bruise easily, a pattern of finding unusual bruises should start some warning bells ringing.
Other signs can include a decrease in appetite or Grandma becoming withdrawn or almost the exact opposite, aggressive.
Keep in mind that abuse can take many forms in a nursing home, and watch out accordingly. Abuse can be something as simple as physical violence, but it could also take the form of neglect. Another subtle form of abuse might be emotional or psychological abuse. These are more insidious because they are harder to find evidence against. Watch out for signs of any form (or any amount of severity) of abuse.
Above all, the best way to guard against any abuse is to be as present as possible in Grandma’s life. Be aware of her daily schedule. Make regular visits. Encourage her to open up if she’s still able to do so. The more present you are, the less likely anything can go wrong.
Grandma deserves to spend her last years in as much comfort and with as much happiness as possible. She took care of you when you were young and needed it, now it’s your turn. By watching out for warning signs and by remaining a regular presence in her life, you will not only ensure she’s safe in her new home, you’ll help bring a lot of that happiness to her life.