By 2030, over 61 million Americans will be between the ages of 66 and 84, and an additional 9 million people will be over the age of 84. This population will require increasing elder care in retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes across America.
As demand increases for skilled nursing homes, potential residents and their loved ones need to become ever more vigilant in comparing and contrasting these communities. Not all nursing homes are alike, and many could be downright dangerous. Here are three red flags to look for when evaluating nursing home options for a loved one:
Poor ratings. The Nursing Home Compare website hosted by medicare.gov provides ratings from nursing home residents and their loved ones. Poor ratings are a good indication that a nursing home should be avoided. Look for a nursing home with high marks for overall quality and care.
Facility neglect. Dirty living spaces and public areas are a big warning sign. If residents look ill-cared for and facilities appear neglected, seek out another alternative. Residents should be assisted in cleaning and grooming regularly, and should not suffer from sudden weight loss, which may be indicative of irregular or under-nourishment.
Signs of elder abuse. While living areas may be clean and seniors may appear groomed and cared for, there are important signs to look for that may indicate elder abuse. Look for bruises, cuts or other signs of trauma. Be on the look out for signs of confusion, depression, and sudden withdrawal from social activities. If you see a caregiver yelling at a senior or witness patients who actively fear their caregivers, be cautious. While there may be other explanations for these signs and behaviors, they should serve as red flags.
Always explore all of your options when it comes to choosing a skilled nursing home facility for a loved one. This is an important decision that will have a profound effect on your loved one’s quality of life.