Protecting loved ones from nursing home neglect in Alabama

Many families in Alabama, and elsewhere, make the decision to admit their loved ones to nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. Often, this is because those loved ones require a level of care they cannot receive at home. Unfortunately, however, there are some situations in which nursing home staff members abuse or neglect the elderly and disabled people who they have been entrusted to care for. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that, of the 2,000 nursing home residents who were polled in one study, 44 percent said that they themselves had been the victims of nursing home abuse. In these cases, there are steps that family members, or other concerned people, can take in order to prevent the continued abuse of their loved ones, or the future abuse of others.

In watching out for nursing home neglect, the first thing that families can do is to listen to their loved ones, especially if they express concerns over their treatment. Additionally, it can be important to monitor for possible signs of abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Administration on Aging, signs that could indicate possible abuse include abrasions, broken bones, bruises and burns, as well as unexplained withdrawal or mood changes. Additionally, poor hygiene, bedsores or any unusual weight loss can be an indication of nursing home neglect.

When people are concerned that their loved ones have been, or are currently, the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect, it can be important for them to report their suspicions to the Adult Protective Services Division of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, if there is no immediate danger. If the danger is immediate and requires urgent assistance, people should instead call 911 or local law enforcement.

Once suspicions of nursing home abuse have been reported, according to the AOA, APS will determine if the state's elder abuse laws have potentially been violated. If so, a caseworker is generally assigned to conduct an investigation. Depending on the circumstances, APS will often work in conjunction with other agencies and offices, including prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement and long-term care ombudsman, in order to obtain the necessary services for the victim and, in some cases, to take legal action or file criminal charges against the alleged abuser.

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