With nursing homes closed to visitors, make sure your loved ones get proper care

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Banning family members from visiting nursing homes: It’s one of the particularly cruel consequences of coronavirus.

It’s also made it more challenging to determine whether our loved ones are getting the care they deserve.

“I do have a lot of concerns for the residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s who may not understand,” said attorney Rachel Stahle who knows a lot about long-term care facilities by fighting for her clients whose family members were mistreated by facilities.

Stahle said she thinks the ban on visitors makes a lot of sense to help prevent the virus from spreading inside the facility, but family members will now need to work extra hard to monitor their loved ones’ care.

She said the best way to do that is to have daily contact with via telephone or a video chat.

That’s what Bill Euler has been doing to stay in contact with his 89-year-old mother Audrey.

Euler said with the help of an employee at Piper Nursing Home in Kansas City, Kansas, he talks to his mom on FaceTime, using the employee’s phone.

“With the memory loss, I’m not sure she realizes how long its been since we’ve been there,” said Euler who, along with his brother, used to visit his mother every day. “But she sure appreciates the calls.”

If calling isn’t a possibility, Stahle said to “identify the charge nurse who is on duty each day and could give you an update for your loved one.”

That way you can find out important information, including whether they received their daily shower, physical therapy or if they are eating well.

Stahle also suggested forging bonds with the family members of other nursing home residents. It’s quite possible you’ll learn more about your loved one through them.

“If your loved one has a roommate at the facility, be in touch with the roommate or that roommate’s family,” she said. “That roommate may be telling her family something about your loved one that your loved didn’t want to worry you about.”

Above all stay vigilant.

As more people become sick from COVID-19, nursing home staffing could be affected. If that happens, the care you’ve come to expect might disappear.

If you become aware of serious problems contact the elder care hotline in your state — Missouri: 1-800-392-0210, Kansas: 1-800-842-0078.

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