Home care services can be a great way to care for a senior adult. However, some situations force people to look into other care options. For instance, the senior loved one might have a severe mental illness or even dementia that would require skilled nursing supervision. It could also be that there's no one at home to render the best personal care. In such cases, it makes sense for the safety of your loved one to seek professional care. If you are considering placing one, or both of your parents in senior care facilities, you may want to know about these concerns.
Leaving a senior loved one in a care facility is not as easy as it sounds. Not when there are concerns about their wellbeing, care, safety, and security in these homes. Such concerns include:
Understaffing in long-term care homes
One of the top concerns that people with parents in senior care facilities have is the staffing issue. Many long-term care homes were short-staffed before the pandemic. And now, it's even more challenging to hire and maintain nurses that care for residents.
Families are worried that their loved ones won't get adequate care because these facilities are understaffed. That the few available staff strain and may end up cutting corners. And that they may fail to fulfill their duties as expected. Whether it’s to wash their hands often enough or respond to calls whenever the elderly needs help, and so on.
Security and safety concerns
There have been several reports of security breaches making headlines in the recent past. In 2018, for instance, a 94-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by an intruder while at a skilled nursing facility. Industry watchdogs and government agencies have raised the alarm about lax standards in assisted living facility that includes nursing and retirement homes.
Some common security and safety concerns that friends and families have include:
Resident violence or aggression
Public violence or aggression
Theft from staff members and residents
Elopement or wandering
Accurate medication management
Resident violence or aggression
Some families place their loved ones into long-term care facilities because of their worsening condition or aggression. In most cases, the older adult cannot stay at home because the family caregivers don't know how to render care. But even with the shift, families still worry about how their aggressive loved one will fit into a home. That’s not the only point of concern for residents. Other residents’ families also worry about their loved ones being attacked by the aggressive resident.
2010 multivariate analyses by the National Library of Medicine found that 7.6% of 6,848 residents living in skilled nursing homes engaged in physical abuse or aggression toward other residents or staff members in the past month. 9.5% had shown verbal abuse or aggression, while 2% had engaged in sexual abuse or aggression toward staff or other residents. In all these cases, severe mental disease and dementia were significant risk factors.
Most skilled nursing facilities have processes in place to help contain such cases. These processes allow them to strike a balance caring for residents with behavioral problems while protecting other clients. In extreme cases, the resident may have to go to a state psychiatric hospital.
Theft from staff members or residents
Senior adults are more susceptible to financial abuse than the rest of the population. When people get older, they trust more often because they have to. They also have a harder time with memory. Sadly, some bad residents and staff members take advantage of this fact to steal from unsuspecting residents. Common types of financial abuse include credit card fraud, bank withdrawals, stealing cash, and access to debit cards. All these things are illegal and are punishable by law.
Elopement or wandering
According to a case report, about 31% of nursing homes and 25-70% of community residents wander at least once. Another study reported that 1 in 5 people with dementia wanders. Going by the numbers, it is clear why families worry about an elopement or wandering in long-term care facilities. Wandering is usually safe and healthy when it's within the facility. It is one of the common, daily activities in most senior living homes.
When residents wander or elope from the nursing home, it can be dangerous. Elopement happens when the resident makes their way out of the assisted living community undetected and goes into harm's way. In most cases, they elope because of:
Agitation, stress, anxiety, or boredom
Disorientation to surroundings
Past patterns of the resident
Diseases like dementia or Alzheimer's affecting judgment
Elopements are common during the first few weeks after a resident joins a community. Most of them do so because of the change in setting and desire to go back home. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to prevent this from happening.
Abuse from staff
According to WHO, 1 in 6 adults aged 60+ suffered one or more abuse types while in a community setting. WHO also adds that 2 in 3 nursing home staff members said they abused residents over the past year. Such glaring numbers make many family members worry about their loved ones' safety in these care homes. They are concerned that their loved ones may suffer at the hands of those supposed to care for them. Nursing home abuse includes:
Financial abuse, and
Abuse can take many forms, while some is less obvious than others. Signs that a loved one is being abused in a nursing home can include:
Physical injuries: sores or strange marks around genitals. Unexplained bruises, cuts, or broken bones and/or repeated falls can also occur.
Emotional changes: bring scared of specific staff members or residents. Complaining about how staff members treat them. Increased signs of depression or anxiety.
Other signs: poor hygiene, loss of finances, frequent infections, untreated bedsores, dehydration or malnourishment.
But since these signs may vary, it's imperative to closely monitor your loved one. He or she may not speak about their abuse because of fear or simply being unable to communicate.
Concerns about their loved one falling or getting hurt
It is not uncommon for senior adults to slip and fall. In fact, each year, 3 million senior adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. For this reason, many family members worry about their loved one falling.
This is considering that slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of disability and even death in the US. But the good news is that aging in place can be a great way to prevent falls. Most of these institutions have secured spaces that ensure adults are safe from falls and other hazards. They have handrails, grab bars, effective lighting, safe bathrooms, etc., to ensure the safety of their elderly residents.
Strangers caring for parents
Seniors, like everyone else, prefer to be around familiar faces like family or friends. They want their loved ones to prepare their meals, bathe them and even carry them around if needs be. But when home care services are not feasible due to a range of reasons, they'll have to get this care from someplace else – like in an assisted living community, or in the case of mental illness, a skilled nursing facility. However, the prospect of a stranger caring for a loved one is disturbing to seniors and their families alike. And it can get extremely uncomfortable, especially when it comes to personal needs.
WytCote understands these issues and in response created SeniorSense. SeniorSense provides resident care and monitoring as well as staff quality control in a simple, secure and easy-to-use platform. Ask your community if they have SeniorSense.
John is a highly respected and seasoned C-level sales, operations and general management executive, with decades of proven success in growing sales and profits while vastly improving operational disciplines.
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