Elderly People Go Through Changes, Too

Old person

You might not think about it, but older people experience many changes as they age. Body parts and senses on which the person has relied are beginning to fail, friends and colleagues known for years are passing away or forgetting who they once were, and significant lifestyle changes begin when a person moves into a nursing home. His or her cognitive abilities may not be as strong as they once were, physically he or she may be deteriorating and diminishing, and his or her sense of independence is fleeting. Perhaps the elder person doesn’t realize that he or she needs help, and that means that loving family members or close friends have to make the decision that the elderly person needs to be placed in a care facility.

While the decision to place a loved one into a nursing home facility can be hard, the change is oftentimes even harder for the loved one being placed in care. Moving into a nursing home can be daunting and challenging for a new resident. There are new people to meet, new schedules to follow, new surroundings, a new bed, and an entirely new home. The whole process can be extremely overwhelming, especially for an elder person who has spent the last decades in the same surroundings and environment.

As such, it is not surprising that elderly people moving into a new nursing home are at the highest risk of suffering harm within the first few weeks of arrival. It is critical that nursing home staff make every effort to make the transition as smooth as possible for the new resident, as a smooth transition can prevent many bad things from taking place in those first few weeks, such as accidental falls, elopement, and the onset of depression.

Most accidental falls occur within the first few weeks of being at a new care facility. The resident is in a new bed, in a new room, and is not familiar with the orientation of the room, how to operate guardrails on the bed, or how to navigate the room at all. Similarly, the highest chance of elopement occurs within the first few weeks of entering the nursing home. Residents who are unhappy with their new situation may try leaving the facility, and doing so would be unsafe. Residents who do manage to elope often do so because they were unsupervised for a sufficient amount of time to escape. A lack of supervision can be the result of inadequate available nursing home staff and is a form of neglect.

Depression is also a common occurrence in newly admitted residents. Nursing home staff should be on the lookout for and able to identify signs of depression in new residents, and should take appropriate action to treat the problem. Depressed residents should be offered therapy and other treatment regimens to help them with the transition to nursing home life.

If you are interested in learning more about what might constitute nursing home abuse or neglect or are concerned that your loved one is the victim of such abuse, please call The Rooth Law Firm at (800) 598-4348 or contact one of our attorneys online. We’d be happy to discuss your concerns with you.

Photo Credit: VinothChandar via Compfight cc

Sources:

 Sarah Baldauf, Step 4: Follow Up to be Sure the Nursing Home is Doing It’s Job, U.S. News and World Report, Health, March 11, 2009

Guidance One Insurance, Guide to Resident Falls, Facts, Prevention, Responding, Tools and References

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