Elder abuse is a big problem, and unfortunately, the rates of elder abuse are high in nursing homes. In some nursing homes, the staff to resident ratio can be very high, and seniors can be neglected too. At SCOA, we want all seniors to be happy and healthy, and that is why we place such an importance on nursing home advocacy. In this article, we’ll go over six ways you can help.
- Visit often. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s important to visit often. You want them to know that you care about them and are checking up on them. Visiting often helps them to see that, and it gives them plenty of opportunity to talk to you about any abuse or neglect that may be happening. Even if you don’t have a loved one in a facility, you can still visit seniors in local facilities. You can volunteer to help with group activities, get to know different residents, and make sure they are being taken care of.
- Visit at different times of the day. If your loved one has dementia, they may not have the words to tell you if anything is going on. Even if your loved one doesn’t have dementia, they may be ashamed or embarrassed to tell you what’s really going on. That is why it’s so important to visit at different times of the day. If you visit at 5:30 pm sharp every day or come after church every Sunday, it will be harder to get a full picture of what’s really going on. If you are able to visit often, you may notice staff consistently on their cell phones, residents not being changed frequently, your loved one not getting their medication on time, etc.
- Say something. If you notice something wrong–whether it’s abuse or neglect–say something. Speak to the director of the facility and bring the issues you’ve noticed to light.
- Contact an Ombudsman. If nothing changes after talking to the director of the facility, contact an Ombudsman. A Long-Term Care Ombudsman is someone who works to advocate and resolve problems for people in long-term care. The Council on Aging has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that covers the southern part of Georgia, including 48 counties, more than 350 licensed personal care, assisted living, and community living arrangement homes, and serving over 12,500 residents. If you need to speak to an Ombudsman or learn more about the program, call us at 1-800-282-6612.
- Send cards or gifts. While this might seem obvious if it’s your loved one in a facility, you can send cards or gifts to people in long-term care, even if they’re not your loved one. Many facilities may even ask for cards or resident sponsorships around Christmas from community members. Cards or children’s drawings can brighten the day of many residents any time of the year, and it can help them to see that there are people who care about them.
- Support SCOA. In addition to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, SCOA also has a Transition Coordination program that works to get eligible seniors out of long-term care facilities whenever possible. This is in addition to many programs that help seniors stay independent, keeping them out of long-term care whenever possible. Support SCOA, either as a volunteer or through financial contributions, is a great way to advocate for seniors in nursing homes.