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Family Visits Reduce Abuse Risks for Seniors in Atlanta Nursing Homes

During the holiday season, it is very important to make time to visit friends and relatives who are living in nursing homes. Getting regular visitors can improve the quality of life for seniors in nursing homes, as these seniors tend to become depressed around the holidays if they do not get to see their loved ones. 07

Visiting can also do more than just give a nursing home resident a psychological boost.  Seniors who get visitors are actually less likely to be victimized by staff abuse and neglect. The holidays, unfortunately, are a particularly high-risk time when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect. Nursing home care facilities are often understaffed as caregivers take time off over the holidays to spend with their own families. Stress from the holiday season (among both patients and staff members) can also result in an increased risk of abusive and damaging behavior.

It is seniors who do not receive regular visitors who are most likely to bear the brunt of this bad climate. According to the Review Journal, these seniors with no visitors faced enhanced risks of abuse and neglect all year long too.  If you visit and notice signs that any resident is being abused, you should speak up and take action.

The Review Journal indicated as many as 60 percent of patients in nursing homes do not receive outside visits.  If a senior does not have visitors, staff members generally know it. They know there is no one coming from outside to advocate for that person, or to take action if that resident is abused or neglected. When staff members who are intentionally abusive are looking for someone to target, they'll likely opt for the most vulnerable senior who has no visitors and who has no one to tell.

Even among well-meaning staff members, unfortunately, the seniors who don't get visitors are likely to be overlooked and provided with poorer care. The simple reason is simple: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Staff members often have limited training, are underpaid, and are overworked. When they have too many tasks to do and it is hard to juggle their time, they are naturally going to spend more of their energy meeting the needs of seniors whose family members will complain if there are problems.

You don't want your loved one to be one of the neglected seniors who is at greater risk of abuse or unintentional harm. This holiday season, make time for a visitor to ensure that your loved one has a happy holiday and isn't being hurt by nursing home staff. Be on the lookout for signs of abuse among any patients at the facility, and speak up if you see something wrong!

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