How to Stay Involved in Your Loved One’s Care While They are in a Chicago, Illinois Nursing Home

As parents, it’s difficult to balance our time and ensure that everyone we care about is getting everything they need to thrive. It can often seem like we’re pulled in a million directions at once, from ensuring an elderly loved one has all they need to managing a child’s hectic social schedule. Sometimes it feels impossible to handle everything, which is why many parents find it’s better for everyone if their elderly relatives are placed in a nursing home, where they can get the professional care they need to thrive.

Though this can greatly diminish the caregiving responsibilities on you, it doesn’t mean that you no longer have any obligations for their care: now, your role has transitioned to advocate and guardian, checking in regularly with your parents while the nursing home staff tends to their everyday needs.

It’s a devastating reality that nursing home abuse is incredibly common; it is so severe that Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit that researches and exposes human rights abuses around the world, wrote an expose on the subject during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the ubiquity of abuse, it’s essential that you remain involved in your loved one’s care even when they have been moved to a facility. Today, we’ll discuss the top signs of abuse, how to speak to your relatives about their care, and when to contact an attorney familiar with nursing home abuse.

Unexplained changes in your loved one’s condition can indicate a serious issue

When it comes to nursing home abuse, you need to look both at the physical and mental aspects of your relative’s well-being. Since abuse can take many forms, it may not be as obvious as bruises on their arms or bed sores on their back, though these are certainly possibilities; rather, you should look for any changes in their demeanor or physical appearance that can’t be explained by a medical condition.

Those being abused may become withdrawn, anxious, or irritable; they may gain or lose a lot of weight due to being over or under-medicated; and their mental state may deteriorate rapidly, far faster than any disease progression. It’s important to consider how your loved one usually acts and identify any sudden shifts from this pattern: every abuse situation is different and it will manifest differently depending on a person’s attitude and character.

Speak non-judgmentally and reassure your loved one that you believe them

If you suspect abuse, it’s important that you get your relative’s side of the story rather than jumping to conclusions. The best way to do this is to pick a quiet time when you will be alone, and then ask them open-ended questions that will encourage them to elaborate. You may ask, “how do the staff treat you when I’m not around?” or “is there anything about this facility that you really don’t like?” Asking directly if they are being abused may not actually net you any results, because they may not recognize what’s happening to them as abuse. Instead, ask them generally about the conditions in the nursing home, allowing them to tell you what they like and dislike.

No matter what they say, reassure your loved one that they can always come to you with concerns and that you won’t be angry with them if they don’t like the facility. This can make a huge difference in their willingness to speak up about abuse, as they will know that there will be no negative consequences for sharing their experiences.

Should you suspect abuse, you need to speak to qualified professionals about the issue

There are a number of avenues you can take if you think that your loved one is being abused, but one of the best options is to get in touch with a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer, who can advise you on the next steps. They will be able to tell you exactly how to report the abuse to the proper authorities, including the police and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and they can initiate legal proceedings against the nursing home.

As soon as you fear abuse against your loved one, gather as much evidence as you possibly can to share with your attorney. This can be taped conversations with your loved one about what is happening to them, pictures of your loved one’s quarters in the nursing home, descriptions of particular areas that you believe may be breaking health codes, and negative experiences that you have witnessed. Be as detailed as you can with this information, with specific dates, times, names, and locations, as this will be immensely helpful to your lawyer. On their end, they will begin to hunt down evidence and expert testimony to corroborate your story, all in the aim of getting justice for your loved one.

Final thoughts

It’s incredibly hard to care for an aging relative and your own children at the same time, and it can feel insurmountable to safeguard all of them against any danger; however, it’s important that you remain active in your loved one’s care even after they are placed in a nursing home, because abuse is sadly common in Chicago area care facilities. Should you suspect abuse, gather evidence and get in touch with a lawyer immediately. With careful observation and thoughtful questioning, you can prevent your loved one from undergoing any suffering at the hands of those meant to protect them.

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