How do I get my mother-in-law moved to a new nursing home due to neglect?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 22, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother-in-law is currently in a nursing home. The care she is receiving is appalling. Before that she received state aid for her housing but she could no longer take care of herself so she was put in the home. I don't know who made the decision as to which home she went too. If she went to another home, who pays for it? None of the children are paying for the home she is in now as far as I know but the conditions she's in are not good. Sounds like they are understaffed horribly. She's stuck in bed or a chair for the day. No one helps her get to the bathroom at night and she wets herself and stays that way all night. I'm just trying to find a better life for her. She's ready to give up on life. I don't even live near her. I'm about 1500 miles away but she calls because she gets nothing from them at this home.


Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

You ask about neglect in a nursing home. It is sad, but true that care in many nursing homes is sub-standard or even dangerous. The conditions you describe are terrible and unsafe and you have every right to be concerned about them. Despite the distance you are from mom, you need to act now. I suggest that if you are able to afford it, get a geriatric care manager to assist you in finding a better nursing home for mom right away. If you are not able to afford this, you will need to go visit and do the search yourself. It will not be easy. It sounds as if your mom is on Medicaid and that is who is paying for the care. The number of well-managed, adequately staffed nursing homes paid for by Medicaid is limited and you will need to work on this to be sure you are not getting more of same in another home.

You did not mention whether mom is competent to make her own decisions or not. If she is not, someone needs to have a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive in place to act on her behalf. If that has not been done before now and she is not competent, you need to seek the advice of an elder law attorney about the next step.

If you do your own research or get the help of a geriatric care manager to locate a safer, better nursing home, get the treating doctor's advice and agreement about releasing mom from the home and moving her. If that, for any reason fails, just do it. She's not a prisoner there. She deserves a decent quality of life and you need to do everything possible to see that she gets it, even if it is inconvenient, and time consuming. One final word of caution: do not rely exclusively on Medicare.gov for its Nursing Home Compare page for rating nursing homes. All of the data posted is self-reported by the homes themselves and a "five star" rating is not entirely reliable. Go check out the possible nursing home yourself.