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Enhancing your loved one's safety at a nursing home

It is important to remain vigilant when you are monitoring elderly family members in a nursing home. Here are steps you can take to ensure your loved one is receiving the care and dignity she deserves as she enters her new environment:

1. Encourage the social network

You may have established that it is in the best interest of your elderly relative to move into a skilled nursing home; however, the reality of new living conditions and perceived loss of independence can have dampening impact on her spirit. It may be helpful to arrange visiting times to coordinate with social events at the home to encourage your mom to reach out to others. Absent an established social network, most individuals will naturally isolate themselves because it can be tough to create new friendships. In fostering friendships, your mom can take part in a community of shared interests. Additionally, these new friends may be able to notice a change in the temperament of your loved one that could indicate elder abuse.

2. Visit with a purpose

Although you may have conducted an intensive study of the retirement home before your mom was admitted, it's up to you to remain vigilant. As you may have done previously, consider visiting the facility at various hours. It's beneficial to observe the staff during potentially chaotic times: meal times, shift changes and evening hours. Document what you notice. A professional staff that is alert and has established routines during these chaotic times will have no qualms with you recording this information. If something seems amiss during these transition times, speak to the manager in charge of the facility.

3. Familiarize yourself with the staff

Even more important than encouraging a social network is establishing a relationship with the caregivers of your loved one. Whether they are nurses, doctors or staff, these individuals have been tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the health of your loved one. Strike up conversation with the staff assigned to your mom. It may be helpful to provide background information so that the staff can better serve your loved one. Get to know nurses and doctors so that when the health review of your loved one arises, you can fully participate in creating care plans to promote optimal health. Building rapport with the staff will serve you if they notice any changes in your mom's demeanor. If they feel comfortable speaking with you, they may be more responsive to your needs and concerns.

Even though you may not be a resident of a retirement home, there are steps you can take to ensure that your impact is felt within those walls. Make your presence known. Create professional and social relationships. You are an advocate for the resident of the nursing home. By interacting with those in this community, you can work towards securing the health and dignity of your loved one.

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Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake, L.L.P.

Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake, L.L.P.
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