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Texas Nursing Home Residents Beware

When the decision must be made to place a loved one in a nursing home, many fears come to mind. Will they be treated well? Will they receive the care and attention they need at this time in life? Will their personal belongings be safe?

Nursing home residents are, in many instances, at the complete mercy of their caregivers. When that trust is violated by abusive behavior, the elderly are victimized greatly. Our worst fears regard the physical safety of our loved ones that are placed in nursing homes.

However, even personal property can be at risk. A recent report out of Austin, Texas tells of a nursing home employee being charged with injury to an elderly person – for stealing from residents.

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – Austin police are searching for a former nursing home employee accused of stealing jewelry from elderly residents in her care. Gina Lewis,23, is charged with injury to an elderly person, according to warrants for her arrest. Police believe she stole jewelry from several women at the Loyalton of Austin Assisted Living Center while she was an employee. The thefts allegedly occurred in May and June of 2008.

As family members, we must be vigilant in our efforts to protect our elderly and infirm that are placed in nursing centers for care. There are several ways to help protect nursing home residents. First, visit often. While this seems obvious, there is a subtlety to this rule. Not only should family visit their relatives often, but they should do so at different times of the day, and on different days of the week. If a pattern develops, then there are predictable times when visits will take place and likewise predictable times when no attention is focused on the resident. A caregiver without regard for the rights and dignity of the elderly can take advantage of these patterns. Personal jewelry and other valuables should be kept to a minimum. In addition to the problem of simply not keeping track of multiple pieces of jewelry and personal mementos, having valuables laying around can be very tempting to those that have no regard for the rights of others.

Clearly there are very qualified and caring facilities in San Antonio, and throughout Texas; however, vigilance and taking the steps to protect your family is never to be underestimated. Every resident in a Texas nursing home has rights. Furthermore, there is valuable information provided by the Department of Aging and Disability Services allowing Texas residents the opportunity to review and compare nursing homes in their area.

Abuse and mistreatment of the elderly is a crime in Texas and if a family member has suffered, contact your local law enforcement agency as well as a private attorney experienced in these matters to assist you in protecting your family.