The current global health crisis has prevented or limited the trips people make to nursing homes to visit elderly loved ones. In March, New Mexico officials declared an emergency order that limited contact at nursing homes. At the time, the only people allowed to make in-person visitations were those with loved ones getting end-of-life care.
In time, New Mexico officials discovered that investigations of alleged abuse and neglect at nursing homes dropped significantly. The state’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department conducted an average of 459 investigations per month from January to March. Those numbers dropped to 294 in April and 332 in May. Still, this news is not comforting so you must continue to be alert to signs of neglect or abuse in long-term care facilities.
Remain aware, recognize signs of abuse
As a result of the initial restrictions, state officials at long-term care facilities altered the way they performed investigations. This strategy included communicating via telephone or online with residents and staff. But by August, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham loosened some of those restrictions.
Outdoor visits at group homes were allowed at facilities that reported no illnesses as well as in counties with low numbers of the illness. Yet, you must continue to look out for your loved one’s physical and emotional health. Signs of elder abuse and neglect include:
- Changes in a person’s behavior. Psychological and emotional abuse can lead to nursing home residents cowering in fear, becoming depressed or angry, especially around certain staff members. Harassment, insults and intimidation remain tools of abusers.
- Changes in a person’s physical being. Scratches, bruises and black eyes and other unexplained injuries are potential signs of abuse. Bedsores, poor hygiene and malnutrition also are signs.
Some nursing homes in New Mexico are gradually allowing visitors on-site, but with many precautions in place. Now that more in-person visits are occurring, families must remain vigilant and alert to elder abuse.