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How to Prevent Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Senior woman in wheelchair

Below, our San Jose elder abuse lawyers explain a few ways to help prevent elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Understanding Elder Abuse Risk Factors in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

In order to understand how to help prevent elder abuse, it is important to understand the risk factors for elder abuse in these facilities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outlines societal risk factors that may increase the risk of abuse and neglect occurring within an institutional setting. These risk factors include:

  • Inadequate staffing
  • Lack of qualified or trained staff
  • Staff burnout
  • Stressful working conditions

Other risk factors that may increase the risk of elder abuse or neglect may include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of elder abuse prevention policies
  • Poor security measures
  • Lack of staff oversight
  • High turnover rate in staff

Risk factors that may make an individual more susceptible to abuse and/or neglect may include:

  • Physical impairment
  • Mental impairment
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Social isolation
  • Infrequent visits by family members

Ways to Prevent Elder Abuse

Though elder abuse cannot always be prevented, there are things that you can do to help reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. For example, you can:

  • Research the facility. If you are considering placing your loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is important to research each facility. For example, you want to ensure that the facility has excellent security in place. This is important because security measures reduce the risk of elopement (residents wandering outside of the facility) and strangers walking into the facility undetected. In addition, you should consider asking about staff turnover rates, its elder abuse prevention plans and its patient care procedures.
  • Understand the signs of elder abuse. Knowing the signs of elder abuse and/or elder neglect can help you recognize suspicious incidents and behaviors, so you can address it. In addition, you should know how to report elder abuse and/or elder neglect.
  • Check-in with your loved one via phone, video call or in-person. Set up regular check-ins with your loved one to provide them with social support. This will give you an opportunity to ask important questions and hear how your loved one is doing. Be sure to listen for signs of stress. Is your loved one avoiding certain questions or showing changes in temperament? Talking to your loved one regularly should help you notice any changes in behavior that are out of character, such as mood changes or depressive episodes. In addition, video calls or visiting your loved one in-person will help you observe physical signs of abuse and/or neglect. For example, does your loved one look unbathed? Are his or her clothes clean or dirty?
  • Encourage your loved one to get involved in his or her community. According to the CDC, having a sense of community is a protective factor for victimization. Social isolation is a risk factor for elder abuse. Encourage your loved one to join community support groups and make friends at his or her nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • Discuss any concerns with the facility. If you suspect abuse and/or neglect, then it is important to document as many signs as possible on your own. However, you should ask the care providers specific questions about any suspicious incidents or accidents before making accusations. Be a strong advocate for your loved one and do not be afraid to speak up if you have concerns.

Contact Our Elder Abuse Attorneys About Your Situation

Do you suspect that your loved one is suffering from elder abuse and/or elder neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility? Consider speaking with us about your situation. We may be able to help you hold the facility accountable. You can call us at (408) 956-6949 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.