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What to do if you suspect nursing home abuse

When you placed your parent or loved one in a nursing home, you likely attempted to choose a safe and reliable facility that would provide the best care. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to anticipate what could or will happen in a long-term care facility. Nursing home abuse is, sadly, all too common. Exact statistics are difficult to obtain, as much of the abuse of this vulnerable population goes unreported.

Steps to take if you notice red flags

  • Start documenting everything. If your loved one develops bruising, broken bones from unexplained falls or even experiences dramatic weight loss, write it down. Also consider writing down psychological changes, such as depression or a reluctance to talk to certain nurses. If their room or the facilities are untidy or unclean, make notes. Visit often and look around you: Are there nurses at the station? Is the atmosphere chaotic or under control? These notes may help support your claim if you need to open an official investigation.
  • Consider speaking with the families of other residents. Have they felt satisfied with the care their loved one has received? Has anything they have experienced or seen at the facility troubled them?
  • If the situation accelerates, talk to the facility about your concerns. Depending on their reaction and response to your allegations, choose whether it is necessary to pursue the matter further.
  • Talk to your local long-term care ombudsman. This person can be an advocate and a resource for you in getting your complaint taken seriously and dealt with in a timely manner.
  • Next, report the abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families either online or by phone.

The Elder Justice Act of 2009 offers legal protection against neglect and abuse. If your loved one is suffering, there is recourse available.

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