The living conditions of the elderly in nursing facilities can be unsafe because of a variety of factors. The idea of a frail and elderly patient being abused and mistreated is appalling, but it's also all too common. Up to 10% of seniors have been abused, and many are at risk of self-neglect, which can lead to dangerous living conditions.
It is critical to address these safety issues because they may have negative consequences. In this article, we'll discuss the different ways on how to report unsafe living conditions of elderly and spread awareness on such matters. Read on to learn more.
Unsafe Living Conditions For Seniors
On paper, senior care providers may want to provide a safe environment for your loved one, but unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of them as well. Elderly people with poor cognitive function, increased physical dependency, and economic and racial disparities are the most vulnerable to abuse in healthcare facilities and at home.
According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Below are some of the following signs of unsafe living conditions for the elderly.
Dirt And Dust
A little dust in hard-to-reach places is acceptable, and dirt around doorways is not uncommon. In fact, if they live in a large house or a spacious assisted living facility, seeing dirt and dust is normal, but if the dust is everywhere and difficult to avoid, it may indicate neglect.
Improper Disposal Of Pet Waste
A few urine stains and the occasional "accident" are perfectly normal for non-pet owners, and if puppies or kittens are present, these things are to be expected. However, a build-up of fecal waste by adult dogs and cats may indicate severe self-neglect.
Infestations can occur at any time, no matter how meticulous you are or how clean your home is. Cockroaches scurry through crawl spaces, and rats enter the basement.
Pests aren't a big deal in and of themselves, but if they start to take over or appear frequently, it could indicate a bigger issue, such as improper food storage. Such an issue could cause serious health problems for the elderly.
Laundry, Dishes, And Waste
If your loved one is unable to properly care for themselves, has mental health issues, or is the victim of neglectful caregiving, you may notice that the sink is full of dirty dishes, some of which have been there for days or weeks. Laundry and garbage cans may also be overflowing.
Physical and emotional abuse by a family member at home or a caregiver in a nursing facility is one of the most common indications of an unsafe environment for your elderly loved ones. Typical signs of abuse include:
- Poor personal hygiene (dirty nails and skin, matted or lice-infested hair, presence of feces or urine);
- Weight loss;
- Inadequate or inconsistent sleep;
- Bedsores or skin rashes;
- Untreated infections or unattended injuries;
- Dehydration or malnutrition;
How To Report Unsafe Living Conditions In The Elderly Folks
Always reach out to 911 in case you suspect a life-threatening situation or an extremely unsafe living condition. If not, below are four ways you can report unsafe living conditions for your senior loved ones.
The Eldercare Locator is a public service provided by the United States national government for the elderly and their families. You can reach them by dialing 1-800-677-1116. You may also reach them through their email at [email protected].
The Eldercare Locator will assist people in locating health-related resources for the elderly in communities across the United States. They also help address the primary cause of any unsafe living conditions, whether it is in a home or a nursing facility.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a 24/7 hotline designated for reporting incidents of physical and emotional abuse in senior homes. Monetary funding is provided for the operation of this toll-free hotline under the Family Violence Protection and Services Act (FVPSA).
This hotline also provides assistance and other necessary resources to youth and adults that are victims of relationship violence, domestic violence, or family violence. To reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline, just simply dial 1-800-799-7233-SAFE or send a text message to 88788.
Contact The Local Ombudsman
The complaint can be filed by anyone. However, if you want another person to file a complaint on your behalf, then he/she should not be your legal representative or legal guardian.
National Center On Elder Abuse
The National Center on Elderly Abuse (NCE) provides the latest information, resources, news, effective practices, training, and research practices that can help eliminate the exploitation, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly in nursing facilities.
To contact NCEA, you can give them a call at 1-855-500-3537 or send an email to [email protected].
Choosing The Right Nursing Home Facility For Elderly Loved Ones
A skilled nursing facility, also known as a nursing home, offers a wide range of health and personal care services. To find the best nursing home facility for your senior loved ones, consider doing the following:
- Evaluate the needs of your senior loved ones.
- Ask for recommendations from your friends and family.
- Call different nursing homes.
- Visit the nursing home facilities you are considering.
- Carefully read your contract once you select a nursing home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most asked questions regarding senior citizens and their living conditions.
1. What are some possible solutions for an elderly person who feels isolated?
Discover home and community-based support services from social service agencies, local nonprofits, and Area Agencies on Aging. Keep in touch with family and friends via video chats, phone calls, and social media.
2. Can social services remove an elderly person from their home?
In most cases, social workers are unable to remove an elderly person from their home. You must have guardianship over someone in order to legally force them into long-term care against their will.
3. Can an elderly person be left alone?
When a patient has displayed anxious, agitated, or impulsive behaviors, even those with moderate dementia may not always be safe to be left alone.
If you visit an elderly loved one in their home or care community and notice signs of unsafe living conditions, it is best to immediately report it to the corresponding authority. Your complaint could serve as the catalyst for your elderly loved ones to finally receive the love and care that they deserve.
To properly request assistance, take note of the different ways to report unsafe living conditions of the elderly discussed above.
If your elderly loved ones prefer to stay at home, read this article by Senior Strong regarding in-home care for seniors.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.