Alert
Close

Join us at AARP's 2015 Life@50+ National Event and Expo in sunny Miami.  Learn more

Most
Popular

Viewed

How to Advocate for Parents in
Nursing Homes

Learn the signs of abuse and neglect

If you’re serving as an advocate for a parent moving to a nursing home, your first responsibility arrives even before your parent relocates. It’s vital to proactively research and personally visit the facilities in your area. Once you’ve chosen your best option and your parent is settled in, be sure to get to know the staff and let them know you will be serving in the role as your parent’s advocate. However, problems can arise no matter how thoroughly your research has been.

See also: Are you ready for the future? Find out with this quiz!

AARP tips how to advocate for your parents when they live in a nursing home

Know the signs of abuse and neglect before moving your parents into a long-term care facility. — Photo by Beau Lark/Corbis

What to look for:

Here’s a quick, simple checklist of major signs that could indicate your loved one is receiving poor treatment:

  • Bedsores
  • Stiffening muscles
  • Physical restraints
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Chemical restraints (drugs)

5 steps to take if you suspect mistreatment:

Incidents of serious abuse should be reported immediately by calling a toll-free elder abuse hotline, the police or the state department of aging. However, if you’re simply trying to address quality of treatment, try these five steps.

Step 1: Speak individually with the caretaker whom you think may be involved. Be open and friendly to their perspective, rather than accusatory or angry. Keep the focus of your conversation on finding a solution together.

Step 2: Find out when the facility’s next care-planning meeting or family-council meeting is scheduled and attend to raise your concerns.

Step 3:  If your issues are not being adequately addressed, talk with a supervisor. Remember to convey specifics about any incidents, including times, dates and other pertinent information. If you are worried that making the complaint may result in retaliation against your parents, be sure to make these concerns known.

Step 4: If you’re still getting nowhere, file a written complaint with the facility. Every nursing home is required to follow a formal grievance process, so find out what time frame you should expect for a response.

Step 5: If the problem continues, consider contacting the long-term care ombudsman in your area, who can be found through your state agency on aging, the National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center or other sources. You can also file a complaint with the state survey agency that licenses nursing homes, which is often overseen by the state’s department of health.

Remember your rights:

As you work to resolve treatment problems, keep in mind that the Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights is codified in state and federal laws to protect seniors’ dignity and self-determination. The list guarantees:

  • The right to be fully informed of services, charges and rules.
  • The right to know the address and telephone number of the state ombudsman and state survey agency.
  • The right to receive information in a language she understands.
  • The right to present grievances without fear of reprisal.
  • The right to complain to the ombudsman or state survey agency.
  • The right to adequate care.
  • The right to refuse physical and chemical restraints.
  • The right to private communications, treatment and personal care.
  • The right to be treated with consideration, respect and dignity.
  • The right to visits by relatives, friends and physicians, and the right to refuse such visits.
  • The right to make independent choices.

related video

Planning for early retirement and potential long-term care needs is among the smartest decisions boomer women can make.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Caregiving
Resource Center

Find tools, work sheets and tips on how to plan, prepare and succeed as a caregiver. Select a Caregiving Resource Center topic from the drop-down menu below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx discount card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

Grandson (8-9) whispering to grandfather, close-up

Members save 20% on digital hearing aids with AARP® Hearing Care Program from HearUSA.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams at LensCrafters.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.