Safety in Your Parent's Home

Are your parents getting to an age where you worry about their safety in their home? Aging parents can have trouble maintaining a home they’ve lived in for many years. Sometimes, if elderly parents try to continue the same level of maintenance, injuries can happen. Or, injuries can happen through the course of daily household activities once performed with ease. If this is happening to your parents or you’re worried it might happen, you may be ready to research nursing homes.

Every day, families must face the decision to place loved ones in the care of nursing homes. It’s important to find a facility you can trust to provide a safe, nurturing environment and a high quality of care. While evaluating options, you may be thinking about news reports with stories of nursing home abuse or neglect. Although this is an unfortunate reality, there are some guidelines to follow that will help you find a facility you can trust.

Consider these questions when evaluating the safety of a nursing home:

  • Is it Medicare/Medicaid certified?
  • Is it licensed by the state?
  • Is the home’s administrator licensed?
  • Does the home offer abuse-prevention and other special training?
  • Has a state agency found an unusual number of violations at this home?
  • Have residents or their families filed a lot of complaints?
  • Are other residents and their families happy with the care at the home?
  • To which hospital are residents sent for emergency care? How far is it?

Narrow down your list to a few possibilities based on the answers to these questions. Once you have this short list, visit the facilities in person. Seeing any long term care facility firsthand is the best way to know how well it is run. Go when it’s busy to experience how the nursing team and staff operate during a typical weekday. Check the rooms to see how many beds are in each, where the nurse call buttons are placed and whether there are any obvious hazards. Talk to the staff and ask questions like what is the nurse to patient ratio and how quickly resident requests are addressed. Observe the residents to see if they’re clean and well groomed and whether they seem happy.

After you select a nursing home, visit often and watch for signs of nursing home abuse. Look for bedsores, broken bones, burns, cuts, bruises or the like. These may be indications of nursing home abuse or neglect.

If you do suspect abuse, take action quickly. You can help stop abuse from happening to your loved one and to others by pursuing legal action. Identifying and reporting abuse is not easy, but your decision to do so could help stop another resident from becoming a victim.