Nearly 10 years ago, when her father was no longer able to live on his own, Minnesota nurse Wendy Rudek moved him into the Minneapolis-area Birchwood Senior Living Center.
While WCCO notes that, at 94 years old, World War II veteran Richard Haller had already been diagnosed with dementia and was legally blind, Rudek began to notice recently that his health was declining noticably.
Concerned that the facility was neglecting him when she wasn’t around, the nurse installed a hidden camera in her father’s room — and discovered a level of what she calls outright “neglect” that left her heartbroken:Image Credit: Screenshot/WCCO
In several instances, Rudek discovered that caretakers would come in and simply drop off food and fluids on a nearby table, despite what she says were “doctor’s orders to help assist feed him” because of his blindness.
At one point, Rudek watched her father try to drink syrup because he was so thirsty. Later, he unknowingly picks up bottle of lotion and drinks it:Image Credit: Screenshot/WCCO
Meanwhile, Rudek notes that caretakers can be seen coming into her father’s room and eating his food while he sleeps, and that he spent three days wearing the same clothes because no one helped him change.
As Rudek put it:
“And so the hidden camera really opened our eyes to really what kind of care he is getting there and it’s shocking and it’s very sad.”
In a particularly disturbing incident when Waller was left alone for a full eight hours, the 94-year-old fell from his bed, and spent an hour on the floor before anyone found him:Image Credit: Screenshot/WCCO
While Rudek has taken her video to a state agency, which is investigating her suspicions of neglect, her story isn’t unique.
It’s a sad situation that’s emerged at nursing homes across the U.S., from nurse’s aides in Texas posting photos of abuse on social media, to allegations that nursing home neglect led to residents’ deaths in Arkansas, West Virginia and Michigan, among others.
Given that the number of seniors in the U.S. is projected to continue skyrocketing — in particular over the next 15 years or so — it’s a concerning situation for many adults with aging parents:Image Credit: U.S. Census Bureau
Things to look for include:
- Poor personal hygiene, including uncut nails and unbrushed teeth
- Unsanitary living conditions, like dirty clothes, bedding, bathroom or kitchen
- Physical issues from lack of nutrition, such as dehydration or malnutrition
- Loss or lack of mobility
- Unexplained injuries
- Psychological issues, potentially indicated by things like becoming “afraid of the caregivers” or growing “distant from friends and family”
As for Rudek and her father, Birchwood Senior Living Center released a statement regarding the hidden camera video, noting that their facility is “conducting audits” and “staff retraining,” and has fired an employee over the incident, adding:
We are cooperating with the police in this situation and we also reported it to the Department of Health.
We will continue to work with our resident, the family, our staff and our regulator to ensure our resident — who has been a member of our community for almost a a decade — is safe and well cared for in accordance with our resident’s and family’s expectations as well as our standards.
Given what she’s seen, however, Rudek fears the worst could happen before the state agencies finish their investigations.
Referring to the video of her father being left without food and fluid, Rudek worries that “by the time [the investigation] happens, he could be dead.”