When you put a loved one into a nursing home, communication becomes very important to ensure that he or she is getting the appropriate care. Unfortunately, as family members age, you may find that your level of communication suffers. People have a tendency to view their aging loved ones as less capable or as someone who needs to be sheltered and monitored like a small child. In addition, older loved ones can feel like they are losing control of their environment and their independence, which can make them less willing to communicate. Here are a few tips to help you strengthen your communication to detect elder abuse in the early stages.
Remember that your loved one may move a little bit slower both physically and cognitively. For that reason, you'll want to set aside plenty of time for visits. The occasional five minute stop is okay and likely welcome, but you'll need to spend some time with your loved one on a regular basis to encourage conversation. Plan regular lunch dates, coffee stops or weekend afternoon visits each week so that you stay in touch. The more available you are, the more likely it is that your family member will talk with you about anything that might be going on.
Be a Good Listener
When you do visit, make an effort to listen closely to the things that your loved one has to say. The more engaged they see you being, the more likely they will be to talk with you openly about any concerns or questionable treatment. Also, by listening closely to the stories and information shared with you, you may pick up on warning signs of mistreatment even if he or she isn't openly talking about it.
Ask Lots of Questions
When an aging loved one is telling you stories about their day or about memories, ask questions. Use open-ended questions that encourage them to talk in greater detail. For example, if he or she is talking about a memory with a grandparent, ask what their relationship was like or what they remember about the home they lived in. This encourages more discussion, which opens up the lines of communication to help you strengthen those bonds.
The stronger your relationship with your aging family member, the easier it will be to maintain that communication. However, you'll still need to work at maintaining that relationship. With these tips, you can help encourage more open sharing, which might make it easier for you to identify warning signs of elder abuse. For more tips, talk with a nursing home abuse attorney who can help you.