Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nursing Home Experience AND NEGLECT!!


Nursing Home Experience~And NEGLECT!

As time goes on since my mothers death, I realize that I need to write down and share the Nursing Home Experience. I do this as away to realize some of my anger, now that I am able to face it, as well as warn and educate others that are or will face putting their parents into a Nursing home.

My mother had a stroke in May of 2003, which left her speechless for awhile, as well as paralyzed on her left side. After her hospital stay, we were encouraged to put her in a Nursing home where they had everyday care for rehabilitation and physical therapy. Reluctantly, we did this. Before her children did so, we search the Internet for hours and days on Nursing home care and the roles we needed to play in this. The Nursing home experience turned out to be horrible regardless, but thankfully, what we learned helped us, as well as her along the way. Also, my sister and I were able to be with her everyday, and stood up for her since she could not stand up or speak for herself.

We were able to visit everyday, but not spend the night, in the first home we had her in. The first morning she was there, I went to see her right away. I got there at 8:30 that morning, and was alarmed to see her in her bed with a cold tray of food sitting in front of her, utensils still wrapped in the napkin. Breakfast was served at 8:00. To say the least, I was angry. Very angry, as we had talked to the staff in detail of her problems, her needs, and the support she needed. From then on, we were there at all her meals, except at the very end of her time there, as she was able to eat with some assistance, and the facility knew if a problem arose, there would be problems with her children. And all and any time away from her, we utilized our research about care concerning her and elder care. One thing we learned was to always date, document, write notes, list the care workers, their names, their shifts, and so much more.

Even with my anger though, (which went on a lot) things never seemed to get better. Our daily journals were filled with pages of what went on with her and her care. One day I came into her room and she was on the floor. They had left her in her wheelchair alone, and she had slipped out of the chair. According to records of when last checked on her, she could have been there a long time. Her leg was scrapped and her nose was bleeding. I was fit to be tied. Again I marched up to the front desk with my anger. Trust me, the front desk was getting real tired of myself and sister Delia, as it seemed all we did was bitch. She could not bitch, so we did. She deserved much better than she got. Then one day, a worker took her to the bathroom, and left her there. She fell off the commode onto the floor. And today I have bad dreams about how long she was on that floor before she was discovered. As it turned out, she fell from her chair two other times. So, we told them that if they were going to leave her in her wheelchair when we were not there, to put her in the day room where the front desk is so she could be watched. As this turned out, they can fall from their chairs right in front of them, as they are not even looking. I came in one time, and a man was already on the floor, and she also had almost slipped out of her chair, in the same room as the front desk.

I know a lot of people reading this are asking "Why did you have her there, why did you not move her elsewhere? What kind of Nursing home was this?" To answer this question, we spent several hours looking at homes and referrals from doctors and others. Sadly, this is a typical nursing home, and this type of problems go on in all nursing homes pretty much, unless you are rich and have care there for the patience (sitters) at all times. The employees are overworked and under paid, and the turnover rate is awful. I have done extensive research on the Internet, and Nursing home problems are extremely high, and reports of Nursing home neglect care is not reported as it should be. And I understand why. Sadly, it is looked at with blind eyes. And the children are so tied up with taking care of an aging parent while still trying to carry on and maintain their own lives and responsibilities.

I recently just found out from a lawyer that you cannot report or sue a Nursing home after the parent has died. I was astounded. It took me a long time to get over the grieving of my mothers death to finally reach the stage of anger to report the problems. And I was doing it for her and other helpless elders. This is a very sad problem and needs to be addressed. So, if any readers are having problems with Nursing home care, take time to make an issue of it. Don't wait until they die. Even with all these problems, my mother did improve some. I really think all the visits from her children, and we never missed a day, as well as the physical therapy helped. She did regain her speech and partial use of her arm and hand. And, in answer to the question of moving her, we did. Another disaster.

My sister and I moved her to an assisted living home. We looked at everything, made visits, talked about programs, told them of her special needs, and her problems. Trust me, it was a total sales pitch with them. All smiles and how well she would do, how great the help was, physical therapy, on and on. The place was very nice. The place was beautiful, and the rooms were like little apartments, and nice things to look at or do. It is funny now, when we look back that all the nice rooms we were shown, such as the sun room, library, TV room, no one was ever in there. We fixed her room up with all her favorite things. We wanted her to feel like she was home here, and that we would visit all the time. Since she was paying for a small apartment pretty much, we were able to spend the night if we wanted. We set up for a laser beam should she start to get out of bed, as there were now no bed rails. We got her a necklace where she could push the button if she needed help to alert them to come right away. After we left that first day of settling her in, we walked thinking things would be OK with her, but there was trepidation in our steps. I can still remember my sister turning to look at me in the car and saying "You are frowning. You are worried about Mom." She was right. I was worried, and as it turned out, I needed to worry. That very first night, Mom wanted a sit up pillow on the other side of the room. She forgot she could not walk, and got up to get the pillow, only to fall. She broke and fractured her pelvic bone in three places. She did alert them with her button on her necklace, but to this day, I have no idea how long it took for them to get to her based of me hitting that button myself several times after that, once she returned from the emergency room.

She did go to the hospital that night, and the doctors said that the way the break was, it could heal, but there was not away to set it. They sent her back to her little apartment. That was the last night that she spent alone there. Delia and I arranged our lives to be with her 24/7 there from then on. Thankfully, we had understanding and caring husbands that understood our shifts with mom. And being there 24/7, we were able to see real problems with this place, and I am sure it is not a monopoly. Since she had to be in bed, and not go to the dining room, we became alarmed. They forgot to feed her. She would have faced total neglect I think, had we not been there to speak up for her. We had to go to the dinning room and ask for her meal many times. We had to remind them that she needed a bath. She would complain that she wet herself and we made her push her button, or we would push it for her. Many times with me, it took over an hour for them to come to her aid. And I paced the floor or went to tell them, she needs help. My sister was able to help when the help she paid so much for did not come. But I was not able to, due to a medical problem of my own, and not being able to lift more than 10 pounds. Now this place hated us, as we stuck up for my mom and made issues of improper care and neglect. And when most care giver employees came to bath her or change her, they moved her as if she did not have broken bones or as if she was not hurting with the moves. It was heartbreaking. And our voices of concern or feelings of how they moved her almost made it worse. They tossed her around like a rag doll as she screamed in pain. And her pain only got worse. We took her back to the hospital for pain management. They put her on all kinds of drugs to help her and told us that she needed her medication when if in pain or prescribed. And sent her back. Meetings were made with the staff again on her condition and her medication. And they were totally ignored. She would be in pain and so we buzzed for her medication. No response. We would buzz again. And again. Finally, my sister or I would go find help, and they would reply they would get to her when they could. Sometimes it would take an hour for her to get pain medication, while she fought the pain. And when she did get it, it was brought into the room almost with anger.

Anger flared with our care and love and looking out for our mother. And their anger flared also. Why theirs did, I am not sure. But, it did. We all came to agree to remove her to my sisters home. She died three weeks later.

And for those that are or will be facing this, as many baby boomers do, I am only trying to make a point of the problems that you will face, or are facing. And it is so sad that our parents, or someone's parents go through such things. How sad that the ones that taught us, raised us, loved us, was someone important, ended up suffering and neglected. I guess I am still speaking up for her, and others in the position she was in, as well as the position we were in. Our position was out of love and respect and treating her that way, and proud that we did. And, one day, each of us that read this, might be in her position also. Who will protect us if we cannot protect ourselves?

Readers, if you are faced with such a problem, make a voice. And document, document, document. Not only for yourselves, but for the victims of Nursing home neglect. They deserve so much better. After all, they are or were our parents, and our stepping stones of our past. Something really needs to be done concerning this. (this was written in 2004)



  1. Katie that's so sad. Elder abuse is a real problem. As you said, children drop their parents off in these places and forget about them. And the business is trying to make money so they staff as little people as they can get away with. It's a terrible situation. Not many people have the money to be able to afford at home care nor are able to care for the parent themselves. I'm glad that you were able to be there for your mother and stand up for her.

    Good post.

  2. Seven years ago, my son's appendix ruptured. While we waited to be seen by a doctor, he nearly died in the emergency room (a sprained thumb got in before my son did, and we had papers from an urgen care center stating we needed to be seen right away).

    My husband and I took turns staying at the hospital. If one stayed during the day, the other would spend the night. We were the ones insisting on the pain meds because it seemed so easy for the nurses to ignore the pleas of a nine-year-old boy.

    Because the appendix had actually ruptured, they needed to leave the wound open for the week he was in the hospital. This meant soiled bedding that wasn't being changed, despite having me request it three times.

    I suppose I'm lucky that I wasn't sued when I stomped out to the nurse's station and dropped those filthy sheets on their desk.

    I was also the one recording his urine output and entering it on the chart, as well as the amounts of food and liquid he consumed. I even monitored his IV site, and I'm NOT a nurse. Think about it, I was doing their job and I was paying THEM!

    The day he was released, my husband was at his side and I was stuck in traffic. The doctor removing the packing and dressing of the wound did not wait for the pain medication to take effect, nor did he soak the gauze in sterile water in order to get it released from the wound. He just pulled it free. It hurt my son so bad, he started vomiting.

    It's amazing the strength we can muster when our loved ones are being abused by those in power.

  3. I have to admit, that I am so pleased to hear these comments, as there are so many unknowns that go (or will go) through this trauma, and a parent, or child (or hopefully some advocate) will stand up and fight for what is right. And stick up for those that cannot stick up for themselves.

    Indigo, thank you for reading my blog and realizing the problem. It is a REAL problem, and as you pointed out, a sad one.

    Ms. Karen, I felt my footsteps with you on "throwing the sheets on the nurses desk". I totally understand your response to my blog, written in anger to a degree and glad to hear I was not alone on what I wrote. With my anger, and glad to know I was not alone in my feelings or what I wrote about.

    I lost sleep for days in the hospital and then out, and I am sure others have as well, as I saw this in your blog of your personal loss sleep Ms. Karen. And your comment brought tears to my eyes, as your son was so young, and had to experience this, with such pain. Thank goodnes we could stand up and voice our opinion of what was needed to be said, (with hopes the cops did not come and place us in jail.)

    IF I was ever in jail for this, I would stay there forever if they wanted me to voice the opinion as not guility, concerning my charge on this, as I think my opinion on this will never change, and my blog still holds with me that there is great need for ADVOCATE CARING AND NEED.

    Thank you both for your comments, and I hope this will strike a cord with many more that face this and with the need to voice an opinion.