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Elderly Abuse At Local Nursing Home Brings Sadness During Holiday Weekend
11/30/2016 3:02:57 PM

Community members protesting on the grounds of Mount Pleasant Manor
By Beverly Gadson-Birch

The older I get the more I understand the aphorisms of the elderly. An aphorism the elderly often used was “don’t bother trouble unless trouble bothers you”. When you are young, the wisdom of the elderly oftentimes escapes the youth and doesn’t make sense, but as you grow older the meaning becomes clear and relevant.

I have always had a close bond with the elderly and right about now I am not that far removed myself. Matter-of-fact, I don’t have to ask for the senior discount; they just give it to me. A few months ago, my sister and I had the unpleasant experience of placing our 91 year old uncle in a nursing facility because of his advanced stages of Alzheimer. My mother took care of elderly friends and neighbors and would often send her children to help out wherever there was a need. I guess that is what has driven me, my sisters and even my brothers to take care of the elderly. In addition to my home training, the elderly have given up so much so their children could become great achievers.

Last week I had the gut wrenching experience of having to “bother trouble because trouble bothered me”. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am returning home from DC looking forward to some much needed rest and relaxation when I received a disturbing call from the nursing home that my uncle had fallen out of bed and onto the floor.

After inquiring about his condition, I was told he was alright. And, within 12 hours he had fallen again. And for the second time, I was informed that he was not injured. How could he not be hurt after two falls at 91 years of age?

Thanksgiving turned out to be a bummer for me and my sisters.

After spending time at the Nursing Home checking on Uncle, as we affectionately call him, my sisters and I decided he needed to be sent to the VA Hospital for X-rays. Without getting into details, and as it turned out, Uncle had a fractured hip and a couple of other problems.

On Friday, I tried to contact the agency to set up an appointment for the family to meet and discuss what happened and why Uncle wasn’t monitored more closely after the first fall. Needless-to-say, no one wanted to talk. All of a sudden we were introduced to the facility’s protocol. It went something like this: The RN on duty in my uncle’s wing needs to call the Nursing Supervisor and the Nursing Supervisor needs to call the Nursing Director, and the Nursing Director needs to call whosoever, I believe it was the Facility Administrator, and y’all can talk to the Social Worker down the hall after you speak to the RN, and the Social Worker said y’all need to talk to the nurse because I don’t know anything about what happened and she only had a minute, so what is it y’all want to discuss? Well, after that exchange I was as dizzy as Lizzy. We were given the runaround while the staff enjoyed their holiday. It seemed no one cared enough to interrupt their holiday. Forget about caring! How about interested enough to check on my uncle since he was sent out to the hospital with an injury? So, here is where trouble stepped in.

“Trouble bothered my uncle, so I bothered trouble.” We protested in front of the facility for two days in defiance of their disrespect and rejection and to raise the awareness of elderly abuse in nursing homes. 
The eye opener of the protest: While protesting, we spoke to several persons that had similar problems either with the same nursing facility or others. In one case, we were told a family member died after a fall. In a couple of cases, family members related that they weren’t notified that their love one had fallen. The collaborative findings were the insensitivity of staff members, inadequate staffing, inadequate training, high turnover rate, poor and inadequate beds and railings, no postings that patient is a fall risk and no automatic send out to a hospital for a check-up and x-rays. Give me a break (pardon the pun because this is serious business)! The elderly deserves far better treatment than they receive.

Elderly abuse ranges from physical, financial, emotional, sexual and anything in between including bedsores, infections, unsanitary environment, neglect and broken bones.

How do you prevent elderly abuse at nursing homes? You do something about it! Like the great Orator Frederick Douglas said, “you agitate”. Do whatever you have to protect your love one and to ensure that the abuse does not continue. Be sure to visit family members or love ones on a regular basis. Observe their behavior since your last visit and check their body for any type of bruising, bedsores or abnormality. If you have suspicion of abuse, Contact DHEC, the Attorney General’s Office and an attorney, if necessary but to do nothing is criminal. Oftentimes family members feel if they speak out, their family member will fall victim to further abuse. There are laws that protect the elderly from abuse.

According to Drug Watch, “a recent government study found that 85% of nursing homes reported at least one incidence of abuse in 2012. I am sure the numbers have increased since the study. “The Office of the Inspector General said that nursing homes only reported 53% of the allegations leveled at them in 2012. Other statistics count 1 in 3 elderly residents as a victim of abuse.”

Think on another aphorism of the elderly! “If you live long enough, you will get to that.” That’s right! You aren’t going to be young forever and someone may have to take care of you. Don’t count on your children. You may end up in a nursing home and abused. Abuse is no joke. Alzheimer patients do not know they are in the world but the world knows they have Alzheimer. So, let’s address this very serious issue NOW!

To report Elderly Abuse, Call 911 or local police.  You can also can the South Carolina Elderly Abuse Hotline at 803-898-7318.

For additional information, contact the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) at 1-855-500-3537 or visit the website at 

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