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Could the holiday season contribute to elder neglect or abuse?

The entire winter holiday season is packed with special events and family gatherings. For those in nursing homes, the disruption in their routine can be difficult to handle -- and it can also create problems with their care that you might not expect.

The disrupted routines -- and the fact that there's often a skeleton crew working around the holidays, leaving nursing homes understaffed -- can lead to issues with medications not being delivered on time, calls not being answered and other concerns, all of which are unacceptable in a nursing home.

Don't many elderly people go home for the holidays?

When they can, some do.

However, many people in nursing homes have conditions that make leaving the facility confusing. When they return, they may wander or become confused about where they are.

This can create more work for the nursing home team, and it's important that they are up to the task. Failing to help the residents re-adjust or ignoring them during a period of confusion can lead to falls and other preventable injuries.

What are some tasks people need help with during the holidays?

During the holidays, seniors may need help socializing, getting dressed or managing their money. It is important that an approved caregiver is with your loved one when they need help, so you don't have to worry about their safety no matter where they are or what they're planning to do.

It's also important that you can trust the caregivers not to take advantage of a senior's generosity. Some caregivers (including nursing home aides) have been known to solicit "gifts" of cash and valuables from seniors. Be on the watch for missing money and jewelry.

If your loved one is left without the right care, ignored or abused while in the care of a nursing home, you can file a claim for compensation. Abuse and neglect are unacceptable. Often, however, the only way to stop these things is to take a stand -- and it may take an attorney's assistance to do it.

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