I drive over the road between two and three weeks at a time and am always worried about my mom who is in a nursing home. What I fear the most is the workers there abusing her physically, mentally or by taking her property or money. The last time I went to see her she was scared and wanted to leave. I felt really bad because I have to drive to pay for her care and for my family. She can’t live with us because she can’t walk up the stairs and we live in a two-story house and the bathroom on the first floor has no tub or shower. Is there anything I can do to help her and protect her?
Rob N., TX
Rob, I remember my first jury trial as a new lawyer. It is something you never forget, just like your first kiss or your first love. I worked in the prosecutor’s office and had the job of putting an elderly man into protective care of the state because he was unable to care for himself. I had very mixed emotions about doing this, but knew he would be unsafe to live alone. He had no family to care for him and like most people from his generation, he was very independent and did not want to be ‘put away’ as he put it, into a home.
I won the trial and he was taken to a hospital for treatment against his will. I do remember looking into his eyes and seeing the fear and confusion he had and it broke my heart. The good news is that six months later he was better and released to go back to his home to live by himself. I knew it was only a matter of time until we repeated this cycle again as he became more frail and forgetful.
I tell you about this man because he represents every older person who, against his or her wishes, must live in a nursing home or assisted living center. When you put older people in a situation where they are confused and frightened they will accept just about any treatment or abuse just to have someone be their friend. Often that ‘friend’ will abuse them mentally or physically. The ‘friend’ may even get the older person to give them access to their money, which is never a good thing.
You want to know what you should or could do to protect your mother. You should discuss any concerns with her physician first to determine whether she is mentally and emotionally fit. If she is in good mental and physical health and you still have the same concerns, then you should notify management at the home of any suspected abuse of any kind.
Some standard signs of physical or mental abuse are:
- Recurring or unexplained injuries
- Dirty clothing or bedding
- Hesitation to talk openly
- Fearfulness of caregivers
- Lost valuables
- Unusual or inappropriate banking activity
- Signatures on checks or documents that are not your mothers
- Caregiver has unjustified control of your mother’s finances
- Caregiver does not allow your mother to speak for herself or to visit with others out of the caregiver’s presence
- Caregiver has a history of abuse of others
This list is only a small sample of telltale signs to look for but most of all use your common sense about what is happening to your mother.
If management does not respond to you and provide you with sufficient answers to your question you should look at transferring your mother to another facility immediately. If that is not possible, then you should discuss your concerns with the local police department, the prosecutors’ office and you may even want to speak with your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS).Being a truck driver means you cannot always be at home to care for your family. If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home be aware of the warning signs, and be proactive with their care if you are afraid they are being abused or neglected.
Being a truck driver means you cannot always be at home to care for your family. If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home be aware of the warning signs, and be proactive with their care if you are afraid they are being abused or neglected.