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Checking in on your parent at their care facility

Whether it was a long-planned process or something forced upon you due to a sudden health crisis, it's never an easy choice to put your parent in a nursing home. You did your research by checking ratings and reviews, and once you felt comfortable in your selection, you turned over daily care of your parent to the facility.

Having made this decision does not necessarily ease your mind, however. It's natural to worry about the care being provided, and if your loved one is happy in their new setting. What would you do if, during one of your visits, you notice that your loved one is acting a little differently?

Causes of depression in nursing homes

It's not uncommon for new nursing home residents to become depressed, but the root of that depression may not be as obvious as you think. It's important to look into the possible causes, such as:

  • Aging and dementia
  • Undiagnosed illness
  • The trauma of change
  • Loneliness and boredom
  • Stress from abuse or neglect

Does your parent have bruises or unexplained injuries? Are they uncharacteristically quiet or subdued? Fearful or anxious around a certain staff member? Are there signs of poor hygiene or sudden weight loss? Does Mom or Dad complain of being mistreated? 

Signs of abuse or neglect

As you explore the root of your parent's depression, make note of any observations or signs of neglect or abuse. It's not pleasant to think about, but knowing the signs could save you and your family member a lot of heartache down the road. You know your parent, and you know when something doesn't seem right. 

There are several types of abuse that you should be on the lookout for. These include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and healthcare fraud.

What can you do?

If you notice or suspect abuse of any kind in the nursing home, unless there is an immediate risk to someone's life, it's important that you check your emotions and collect your thoughts. It would be wise to consult with the nursing home manager and, if helpful, bring notes outlining your concerns. Hopefully, the nursing home satisfactorily addresses these concerns.

If they do, there will still be work to do with your loved one to help them understand that action has been taken, and rebuild trust that they are in a place where they should feel safe and cared for. If the nursing home is not cooperating, you should contact your state's Adult Protective Services department and seek advice on possible legal action.

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