Like many adult children in Tennessee, you may have recently helped or are preparing to help your aging parent transition to an assisted living residence. There are any number of reasons why your loved one may no longer be able to live an independent lifestyle. You might feel overwhelmed and worried about finding a nursing home that helps your family member meet his or her needs.

In addition to practical needs, the social environment of a chosen facility is also a high priority for many elders. Like most children of aging parents, your biggest concern may be safety, in particular, how to recognize signs that something isn't right and where to seek support if you believe your loved one is at risk or has suffered an injury due to abuse or negligence.

Never let down your guard

After your mother or father is settled into his or her new surroundings in a nursing home, it's easy to become comfortable or, even, complacent regarding safety issues and possible signs of concern. Every time you visit or talk to your loved one over the phone, you can closely observe or ask questions to make sure everything is going okay. The following list includes signs that your family member might be in danger:

  • It's normal for those who are aging, especially those who suffer a mental decline, to become moody or easily aggravated on a day-to-day basis. However, if you think you're loved one is excessively irritable or suffering from mood swings, it pays to further investigate the situation, as it might be a sign of abuse.
  • Check out the atmosphere every time you visit your loved one's nursing home. If his or her bed linens appear soiled, the room is un-kept or his or her personal appearance is disheveled, it warrants a discussion with nursing home officials.
  • Any sign of injury should cause you great concern. If you ask your loved one what happened and he or she appears agitated or frightened, it is critical to seek further explanation from nursing home staff and administrators.
  • Repeated movements, such as hand-wringing, rocking back and forth or verbal babbling may be a sign that your loved one is in distress.
  • If your family member grows anxious or scared when a particular staff member enters his or her room, it may be alerting you to a serious problem.

Sadly, many elders suffer psychological, physical or sexual abuse in Tennessee nursing homes, as well as other facilities across the country. It is true that some nursing home residents, especially those with severe dementia or other mental disorders, are often demanding and impatient, which can be stressful for nursing home staff members. However, there is never a legitimate reason to neglect or abuse a patient.

What to do if you suspect your loved one is at risk

First of all, trust your instincts. If you visit or speak to your loved one and something doesn't seem right, do not disregard your suspicions. It's far better to investigate and be wrong than to ignore a possible problem when your mother or father may be at risk for serious injury.

If you are not satisfied with the answers nursing home officials provide when you ask about a particular incident or issue, you can speak to someone well-versed in elder law issues to determine the best course of action to help resolve the problem.