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Problems in Nursing Homes are Driving More Seniors to Age in Place

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Apr 01, 2022 04:09 PM EDT

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Problems in Nursing Homes are Driving More Seniors to Age in Place

(Photo: Dominik Lange via Unsplash)

For years, there have been many concerns about the quality of nursing homes. Two of the biggest concerns are the cost of care and the quality of care (which can be broken down into several subcategories). 

Nursing homes can be insanely expensive, totaling costs of up to $5,000 or more per month. Usually, the most expensive nursing homes have the best quality of care, but this isn't always the case. And still, those paying only $1,000 to $2,000 a month expect their loved ones to receive quality care.

When it comes to quality of care, many residents and their loved ones report abuse and neglect. Here are some of the signs of abuse and neglect.

Nursing Home Abuse

Also known as elder abuse, nursing home abuse can be physical, sexual, or verbal in form. Nearly 15% of all nursing home residents have been a victim of abuse or neglect by a caretaker while in the home. Unfortunately, elderly individuals are more at risk for abuse due to the fact that they're seen as being defenseless, making nursing home staff more comfortable about mistreating them for:

  • Being too loud

  • Not being able to sit up/move

  • Refusing medication

It's also possible for nursing home residents to be abused by other residents and even visitors, in addition to receiving abuse from the staff. Nursing homes should be a safe place for all who enter- visitors, staff, and especially the residents.

Nursing Home Neglect

There's a fine line between abuse and neglect, as neglectful acts can be considered abusive if a caretaker purposefully "forgets" or chooses not to do a certain task. In some cases, neglect is considered a form of abuse, even if the neglect was truly accidental. Here are some common issues in nursing homes associated with neglect.

Bed Sores

Bed sores, pressure sores, or pressure ulcers occur on the skin when a person has been sitting or lying down for a long period of time. The constant pressure put on that part of the skin restricts blood flow, causing burning, itching, or even pain. However, this is only the first stage of a bed sore, and there are three more:

  • Stage 2 is when the skin breaks and leaves an open wound.

  • Stage 3 is when a layer of fat tissue breaks, and infection is likely.

  • Stage 4 is when the sore goes deep into the muscles and ligaments.

Nursing home staff may forget (intentionally or unintentionally) to check on bedridden patients, increasing the risk of bed sores and their severity.

Medication Errors

Medication errors can occur in more than one way. The wrong medication could be given to a patient when it was meant for another patient, or too much/too little of the right medication could be given to a patient. This error can easily occur if the nursing staff is rushing or not paying attention to the medications or the patients.

Another "medication error" is giving a patient medication that changes their behavior. This can be in the form of a sedative or other behavior-altering medication. This error is almost always intentional and therefore is also considered to be abuse.

The "Aging in Place" Alternative

Aging in place is the term used for senior citizens who remain in their own homes as they continue to age. The good news is that most senior citizens are able to do this, with mild to moderate changes made to their homes to ensure their safety. Some of these changes include:

  • Walk-in bath/showers

  • Vinyl flooring with cork underneath for cushion

  • Stairlifts/home elevators

  • Lever door handles in place of knobs

The majority of senior citizens prefer to remain in their own homes as opposed to moving into a nursing home, retirement home, or even with other family members. In fact, nursing homes should only be an option for your aging loved one if they require more advanced medical attention.

Aging in place is considered to be the best living arrangement for senior citizens, as long as it can be done safely and comfortably. Aging in place allows them to remain independent and do the things they enjoy such as gardening, fishing, or even traveling the world.

It's important to note that abuse doesn't occur in all nursing homes, so choose this option for your aging loved one if it's what's best for them. Also, research more than one nursing home to make sure that they're equipped to deliver the care that your loved one needs.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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