Sauk County case serves as reminder to watch for elder abuse

You did your homework and selected the best possible nursing home for your parent. By all available accounting, the residents of the home you selected were receiving good care. Despite best efforts, one out of every ten elderly residents will experience elder abuse. As if that number weren’t high enough already, there is concern that more incidents go unreported than reported.

Sauk County Case

This past spring, a registered sex offender who had been living at the Maplewood of Sauk Prairie Assisted Living Facility was removed after the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid learned he had been unmonitored for nine months and acting inappropriately. According to the DHHS report, the man had sexually assaulted at least three female residents during this time.

According to Tim Damos of Wiscnews, this went unnoticed because the man lied on a form stating that his address had not changed. Unfortunately, “…Officials say it’s the responsibility of a sex offender to notify a nursing home of his or her legal status when applying for admission. If the offender is admitted, there is no requirement that the nursing home inform other residents.”

Signs of abuse or neglect

No one knows your parent better than you do, and that’s why it’s so important for you to stay connected. Nursing home staff, even those with the best intentions, cannot identify the subtle signs of distress that you can.

Here are a few signs to be on the watch for:

  • Dehydration
  • Mood changes
  • Fearful body language
  • Lack of cleanliness (facilities and residents)
  • Weight loss
  • Bed sores
  • Isolation (voluntary or involuntary)
  • Distant staff members
  • Missing belongings
  • Unreasonable schedule restrictions

What to do

Listen to your instincts. If something seems off, it probably is. If possible, recruit a team of caring individuals who can take turns making visits to the facility. Ask that each individual take notes of any observations, even those that are seemingly insignificant. Encourage them to engage with the care team and record those observations as well. Compare notes to look for themes.

If you feel that a nursing home resident is being mistreated, it’s so important that you get them the help they deserve. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

For all other complaints, review the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website here, for a comprehensive list of resources.