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When we contact the nursing home the stories never match. My mother is currently in a nursing home ( she cannot walk, cannot transfer herself to/from her wheel chair and is bowel and bladder incontinent) and often tells me and/or one of my siblings things that are happening at the facility that bother her . After she continues to complain about a situation for many days one of us contacts the facility and almost always the stories do not match. We do not normally see the issue when we are there ( one of us visits for 2-3 hours 5 of the 7 days a week) . Does anyone have any suggestions on how to tell who is right ? The staff claim she is just not remembering things correctly mom claims they are lying.

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My suggestion is to go with your gut instinicts here.

I experienced the same with my mom, and dismissed, and chatted with staff, who assured me that her complaints were unfounded.

At first it was little things that could easily be dismissed or explained. In looking back on it, we should have taken things more seriously as she started being afraid of being there, and as it turned out, it was for good reasons.

My mom was also demanding and wanting attention, and for those types of personalities, you think they are doing it for the attention.

Then came the night when she was outside the facility refusing to go back inside stating that the staff was going to burn the faciltiy down in order to collect the insurance money because families could not afford to pay for their loved one to be there.

We ended up at the hospital and she was in the phyc ward for 72 hours observation. As it turned out, they were over medicating her and had not discontinued medications her doctor had stopped. The interaction and number of medications they had her on cause a full blown physcotic(sp) episode.

Later learned that her complaints of being threatened for using her call button in the middle of the night were legitiment along with some other things.

The sad truth is that abuse and neglect are real issues no matter how wonderful the facility looks, or how the sales person and administrator seem to be. Children and the elderly are the easiest to take advantage of, and things do happen.

If possible, put a video camera in her room so you can observe what is going on.
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What is your mother's mental state? Is she generally alert and clear-headed? Does she tend to misinterpret other things? For example, if she mentions details about one sibling's visit to the other sibling does she get her facts straight? Whether she is a reliable witness or not doesn't prove anything, but it is something to be taken into account.

How serious are the things that upset her? If they were true would it be important to see that they stop, or to explain them to her to lessen her worry? If she sees bruises on one of her friends and thinks abuse is going on, that would serious if thre is abuse. If the friend takes a blood thinner and bruises very easily and vividly and tends to bump into the walls as she walks, that would be something to explain to mom, without requiring any changes at the NH.

Your question is, how do you know whose reality to take seriously? If you visit ten to fifteen hours a week, you must be acquainted with many of the staff. Do you have a cordial relationship with anyone you can trust to tell it like it is? Can you stagger your visiting hours so you are there at all times of the day? Can she call you when she thinks these things are happening so you can see it for yourself? (I realize you can't necessarily drop everything and rush over there, but if the worry is serious, perhaps you could a few times.)

This dificulty in knowing how much is "real" and how much is "misinterpretted" really makes our loved ones vulnerable, doesn't it?
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Mom could be not remembering things correctly. The staff could be lying. Or it could be a little of both. Sigh.

What does the doctor generally do when he visits? If her is dozing off when he pops in, does he just ask the nurse if there have been any changes or problems and then approve continuing as they are? If so, he could be coming in and she isn't aware of it. How often does he visit? If she is expecting him daily and he comes every two weeks, she is going to feel like he never visits. And she could just plain forget that he comes. I can't think of what the nursing home would have to gain by the doctor not stopping on his regular rounds, can you? Next time you are in, in a very friendly way, ask to see the records of when the doctor visited and what, if anything, he said about her. Explain that you want to be able to explain this to your mother in a way that she can understand so she won't be anxious about it. This should assure your mother that you take her seriously and will look into her cncerns. And it will probably give you grounds to reassure her about the doctor visit, too.

They wouldn't necessarily know if she is having sleeping problems, unless she is making a fuss. Are there any medications she is supposed to get during the night? Why would they be waking her up? If they wake her because she is dozing at 3 pm and it is time for her meds, then it doesn't matter so much that she can't get to sleep. I think the important question is when does this alledged waking-up-for-meds happen, and why?

It is possible, I suppose, that your mother mentions her medical complaint to a feelow resident or a cleaning person, and then wonders why a nurse won't help her with her headache. If she is attention-seeking and has gotten the brush off on trvial things she may not be reporting her issues to the nurse because "they never do anything about anything I say," and she thinks she needs to get you involved even if she hasn't talked to the nurse or aide first. (This is kind of crying wolf on both sides.) And it is possible that she tells them and they don't take it seriously. Perhaps you can track this down if you ask for specifics. "Who did you tell about your nausea, Mom? Was that this morning or yesterday? What did they say to you when you told them?" etc.

1. Mom may be exaggerating a bit, for a little drama and attention.
2. Mom may be genuinely confused and not remembering correctly.
3. Mom may be right, and the NH is being neglectful.

Sorting out which of these applies to each complaint is a challenge. Do your best to investigate each complaint. Even if it is usually 1 or 2 that applies, that doesn't mean there won't occasionally be a #3.
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Always listen to that family member first. Do your own investigation before discounting them. I have worked with seniors my whole life as a volunteer around the nursing homes and I know that there are often misunderstandings that appear to be something they are not. Some people...my mother for instance was considered by the nursing home to be unsocial because she did not want to go with the group and watch tv programs that she considered stupid...she was rather quiet and a loner and that was what worked best for her. I could not even leave her at the daycare because they were not equipted to have one old lady who did not want to watch the tv and play the games. Just wanted to chew gum and rock in her rocking chair. Sad state of affairs. I finally had to take her out of the nursing home and had no problems until the last few months of her life when her brain began to shut down. (alz)

Some people do complain and want more attention but sad to say some of those individuals often do not get enough attention. There should be someone around to interact more with these individuals. And the homes are often short staffed. There are many people who want to put their loved one in a nursing home and expect there never to be a problem...well hello! You have a loved one in the hospital or nursing home, etc. stay involved and your loved one will get more and better attention....at least they will probably not be abused. It is amazing what a little touch or pat on the cheek can do for the happiness of one who is shut in.

My mother used to tell me she was unhappy at the nursing home and would rather be dead than to be living there...I live in Fla but she wanted to stay in the Va area where her boys were...So .I would drive 1000 miles to try and figure the problem ...and she would tell them she liked it there. After a few trip I made a surprise visit and found what was going on! What was happening was her room mate was taking almost all the closet space and taking the only hook in the bathroom for her personal items...took up the most space in the room, etc. The room mate after she received her noon meds would become agitated with my mother who was afraid to tell what was happening. The nurses told me the room mate had this problem, yet they were going to move my mother to an area with those who were so medicated they were always in a stupur..or screaming, etc. . I immediately removed my mother from the home. (I spent about three minutes in that section and thought I was loosing my mind) I could not subject my mother to that. The other thing was my mother did not want to drink water as she did not want to have to urinate and ask for help. I continued Digging for info and also found that the room mate did not want her to turn on the light at night so mother did not want to have to go to the bathroom. This had all gone on for over a year and I felt really bad but it was not easy to find out what was wrong. The room mate was given a lot of freedoms because she would make a scene and my mother who was shy anyway was living in fear 24 hours a day. These things happen a lot!!!!

When she came to live with me mother was on about 13 different meds...The bill was always high there were many extras added. I was able to get her to a doctor that cut the amount down to about 8 meds....and I am not sure she needed all of those either. Getting rid of the meds made a big difference in her attitude, actions and quality of life.

Another thing I noticed at the nursing home.... those individuals whose mind appears to be gone will often cling to stuffed animals and are calmer around those who are attentive. I feel this is in someway of our human instinct to clutch to things that make us feel connected in some way. I have also noticed that some of those who are highly medicated are scared of the shower yet they have the water sprayed on them anyway. Whenever I notice anything or I am told anything out of the ordinary I make it known....And I wish others would do the same thing. I know that some of the nursing homes are very nice but there is no way they can control all the employees and some just do not like their jobs nor do they enjoy working around seniors. We have to face the fact that it is often just a job. So we can do our part by staying involved and helping them at the nursing home to understand our loved one so they can give them the best care.

My mother passed but I still viist several little friends at the nursings homes . One who recently passed never wanted to eat or she had difficulty feeding herself and I would often see that a whole plate of food was left....the aid would say she did not want to eat....what I had observed once was they were trying to feed her too fast and I think she had problems swallowing such big bites. She lost a lot of weight once she was in the nursing home. Her family placed her there and almost never came to see her...thus she was resentful and often took it out on others. I threw a big birthday party for her the year she died and all the residents showered her with attention and started noticing her after that. But.. I have seen so many sad things it breaks my heart to even think of them. Take good care of your loved ones....my mother used to say "What goes round comes round"... I enjoyed reading all the posts...and I hope I did not sound as though I was preaching to you....it is just that I am very passionate about all this because I have seen so much! Love and Blessings ~ Bobbi
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Presently my Mom is in a Nursing Home, I can tell you from personal experience at this one and one I used to work in as a teenager that not all Nursing Homes are the same (I also looked at 8 nursing homes when I found this one). THE FAMILY play an important ROLE in MAKING CERTAIN all is well. WE have to be VIGILANT-Just like we do with our small children that dont speak at daycare and YES even though we work and that leaves us little time-We stil make TIME-You would go during Lunch if your small child at daycare had a CONCERN. The 1st week with Mom there I went everyday til I met the Doctor asked him what days he visits and reviewed all the meds Mom was taking-(also they do this when you 1st transfer her in-but IF YOU ARE NOT THERE) they have no one to do this with. NEXT- MAKE it a Point to Make Yourself VISABLE introduce yourself to as many staff personel as possiable-Friendly but Firm-let them KNOW you will be in and out of the facility and that youre AVAILABLE anytime of the day or night!!!(Even though you may not be!) Leave A Magnet Board on the Wall introducing your parent to the Staff-set it by the Bed-Let them KNOW your Parents Quirks and why they may react to certain things or behaviors a Certain Way. Let them KNOW that you Understand that they are a VALUABLE ASSET to YOUR PARENT AS WELL AS you and your family members. MOST OF ALL- Dress your Family Members room LIKE YOU CARE- So Often you can pass a patients room and know who visits OFTEN just by the way the room is DECORATED. Most of all TAKE TIME to REALLY VISIT the Nursing Home-You know who you are- this Well I've been here for an hour or just until youre Bingo game starts doesnt cut it. BE Active in BEING THERE-BE A PART of your Parents Activities from time to time. You could ACTUALLY find yourself having a little fun with your parent-the employees-and yourself-INTERACT just as you would one of your Childrens functions. Dont JUST LEAVE your family member there and Expect that they will TRANSITION themselves you have to BE APART OF That TRANSITION. My mom know feels this is a Happy Hospital with very kind people,she feels Safe Content knowing that when I leave I will be coming back. THINK BACK how it was when you were left at day school or some other place for the 1ST Time what your Reaction Was How you felt, Then ask yourself is this a genuine or do i put more of my part in to insure that my MOM or DAD is Transitioning accordingly. I know its hard and most ask,well why bother to put them in one of those places if i have to check in 24/7. Fact of the matter is you dont,but if you care,You will. I could go on and on on what you can do,but the truth is you have to want to.
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Rp, I'm not an expert but here is what I would do.. Talk to all your siblings and get everyone on the same page. It seems to me that she is not just lonely but it's more. Many elderly people not only get lonely but they become what is commonly called "touch deprived" because they don't have a significant other close by. I might be way off here but it's your Mother and it's worth giving it a try.. I would suggest that every time someone goes to visit her they make a point to hug her when arriving and before leaving, and not just a light phoney hug but a good gentle but firm one like you really want her to know you love her. And for those of you who can handle all this touching easily than others (you know who you are :)) make it a point to sit next to her and hold her hand and just look in her eye's and say "I love you Mom" Then take notices if her complaints decrease. If they do then you know what she needs and problem solved.
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Years ago, when mom had her first rehab visit, she was doing the same thing. Telling me that she was telling people in the place about her "problems" but nothing would get done. I had to lure it out of her of who she told these things to. She would say she told the male or female nursing assistant that was caring for her. Then he would came in and I would question him and he would say "no never said anything to me". I wondered also what was going on - until a week later, the maintenance man came in to work on her phone and mom said "he's the nice man I was telling you about that I told my "problems" to". I said he's the maintenance man but she thought he was another male nursing assistant that was in her room "doing things for her". Another day housekeeping came in and mom said "oh she is so nice, I was telling her all the problems I have with this place". So your mom may have told people things - just not the "RIGHT" people. After that week, I walked around with a large notebook and documented everything - each visit had a new page and was dated - what mom said about the facility, her demeanor when I was there, what I overheard from other residents, what the nurse or asst. said when they came in, times they gave her lunch, snacks, bathroom visits, time she left for pt and when she came back, (including names of staff each time) basically anything that occured and when I asked the nurses to see her file, I would put my notebook next to it and document certain things. I found that when I would ask staff questions that first week, even though I was there everyday, I would get quick answers and I honestly didn't know whether they were honest or I should go with things my mom had told me. Once they saw I was documenting everything I found things changed - they were more attentive to mom. Once mom saw I was writing down what she told me - I told her in case they weren't taking care of her properly I knew who to report. Then the "stories" stopped. Whether it was mom sometimes making things up or the staff being inefficient, my documentation told everyone I meant business and could refer back to my notes at anytime - put everyone on their toes. Many assistants told me they never saw anyone do that - but did admit it had an impact on some of the staff - in a positive way and they were happy for that. And you would be surprised how many times during the next 5 years of her life that notebook came in handy - every hospital visit, rehab stay I took notes, and yes those notes came in handy many times when I needed to refer back to her history. I also put a notebook size piece of paper on the wall near mom's bed - decorated it - and wrote - "if you come to visit mom, please write your name, date and time down, and if you spoke to mom or she was out of the room or asleep so that I'm aware of your visits. Thanks, Her Daughter". I did this everytime she went to the hospital or rehab and although regular staff didn't sign in (I didn't expect that) the doctors did as well as her friends. It ended the confusion to her as to why her friends werent' visiting her (in her eyes) when in reality they were there, but she was out of the room - either for tests, ot or pt. Although I visited her every day, I made sure it was at different times of the day. Also many times I would be there in the morning, and I'm sure they thought "ok daughter did her visit today", only to show up again an hour or four hours later, even if only to stop in for ten minutes. Staff knew I could and would pop in anytime (luckily I lived only 10 minutes away) and I think that also may have kept them a little more on their toes - they knew I was watching. I agree with jeannegibbs on her entire post - mom may be exaggerating for attention, mom may be confused or mom may be right. It's going to take time to sort it out - Good luck!
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I have been a long-term care ombudsman in the past. In case your not familiar with what an ombudsman is that is a person who advocates for resident rights in nursing homes, assisted living, etc. (long-term care facilities). You can contact your local ombudsman office and ask them to check out your mom's concerns. You and she can remain anonymous if you wish. An ombudsman will check out the situation. I believe that it is important to not disregaurd your mom's concerns. There are alot of good long-term care facilities that do a good job, but there are also some that need to be checked on and be accountable. I hope this helps
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I work in a nursing home. That is awesome your family is involved and can have someone visit at least once a day. We have several residents whose family I have never met, or they start coming around only when the resident takes a turn for the worse. It's so sad when you have a daughter that is POA that cannot even be bothered enough to bring her own mother new clothes that fit, or to replace the ones that are all stained and tattered, or even pay $10.for a haircut with the facility beautician. So I commend you and your family, all my residents deserve to have a family that cares as much as yours does.

If you (or other relative) have to address your mom's complaints directly to the nurse... don't be shy. You are her advocate. With some nurses, I will take the resident's complaints to the nurse and they will just poo-poo it. But they jump and ask how high when family speaks up. Ask her how she's feeling today, ask her if anything hurts, Look her over for bruises and skin tears especially on the upper arms. Someone can easily knock a knee, forearm or hand into a door jam and bruise up. Upper arms are usually from staff getting a little too rough. Oh, and another good indicator of quality of care is check how clean their sheets are. Yup, peel back the bedspread and top sheet. Is it a bed you'd sleep in?

As many has mentioned, she may have a skewed sense of what is really going on because their brain is misinterpreting the information due to their medications. When the dr comes to the NH, they are in and out of there so dang fast it's hardly worth anything. It may be worth your time to make an appointment at her Primary's office, bring a list of all her medications and have him review them to make sure she is not being over medicated and that everything she is taking is appropriate for her. He can also check her for any cognitive decline... that's when they ask them what year it is, who is the president, what is 19 less than 100, repeat these 3 words then will ask them a few minutes later what those 3 words were. If you guys can verify that your mom is 100% all there, it narrows things down considerably. Could be a behavioral problem, some people just like to play the role of the poor victim and you know your mom well enough to know if this is something she has done all her life. I have one resident who is still sharp and always claims none of her daughter's have visited her since April. The truth of the matter is 2 of her daughters are there every Sunday like clockwork. If her boyfriend there has a stomachache, she suddenly has a stomachache. If he is constipated, so is she. She could have had her bed stripped overnight because she was incontinent, she'll say it hasn't been stripped in 2 months. Now if your mom is not like this, then yes I would take a hard look at the care she is receiving from the facility and maybe start looking into other facilities.
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Sometimes the patients complaints are true. My mother use to complain about bad treatment when she was in a nursing home. I made several surprise visits to the home and found that my mama was right. I once found a nurse aid feeding my mother while she had her sitting on the bed with the mattress rolled up and mother sitting on the springs leaning against the rolled mattress and nearly gagging as the aid was stuffing food in her mouth without giving her a chance to chew or swallow. Please check further your mom's complaints.
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