Discovering Abuse From A Distance
DATELINE LOS ANGELES It was only last Tuesday afternoon when Ed Sievers had placed his third call to the Long Island nursing home where he'd placed his mother.
"Look, I've called twice before today, and every time I phone, I'm told that Mrs. Sievers -- my Mom -- is not available," he'd told them.
Now, outside his suburban apartment next to the Foothill Freeway, a worried Sievers watched a fire engine hurtle by. Yes, he had trepidations about placing his sole surviving parent in a nursing home three thousand miles away.
But what choice did he have? He wasn't young anymore, and was lucky to have a good job with a pension plan working for CalTrans. He worked long hours, and knew he couldn't care for his mother in his modest Los Angeles apartment.
A nursing home seemed like the only option.
But over the past couple of weeks, each time he called, staff members at the nursing home told him that she was unavailable, or was sleeping. No Mom.
And then there was the call from last week. He finally reached his Mom, but her speech was slurred and she said she was drowsy all the time, even when she got rest. True, she was on several medications, but this symptom hadn't happened before.
Now he hadn't spoken with her for a week, and the nursing home had called him at work to say that his mother had been rushed to the ER.
It was just the sort of crisis that he had wanted to avoid when he had placed her in the nursing home.
ANALYSISWhat happened to Mrs. Sievers in the nursing home is not uncommon. Nursing home abuse often manifests itself in sudden changes in your loved one that can ultimately be traced to improper and over medication of the nursing home resident.
Nursing home staff may give unnecessary medications and drugs to residents to keep them quiet. This violates nursing home resident rights and is often due to short staffing in the nursing home. This situation requires investigation, a study of medical records, and plenty of question-asking. A nursing home should be a safe place for patients, but sadly patients are sometimes wrongly medicated and improperly given psychotropic drugs.