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Advice & More March 2014

Dollar Sense

A Helping Hand for Those with Long‑Term Care Needs

By Teresa Ambord

It’s a funny name that may be hard to remember. But the job of the ombudsman is to stand between the long‑term care providers and the residents who rely on them.

Need help finding a long‑term care facility for yourself or someone else? Or perhaps you are in a dispute with a facility that you can’t resolve on your own. That’s the job of the ombudsman. It’s a funny name that may be hard to remember. But the job of the ombudsman is to stand between the long‑term care providers and the residents who rely on them.

Every state has an ombudsman program, which is run through the state office of Administration on Aging ( Many ombudsmen are volunteers, trained to provide the help you need or point you in the right direction.

People who live in nursing homes, assisted living housing, boarding homes, and other facilities for adult care need a voice. They need someone to speak for them and advocate for better conditions and for fairness if there is a problem in this area. That’s where the ombudsman comes in. He or she works to solve the problems individual residents and their families encounter with long‑term care. They also work to bring needed changes to the long‑term care industry in your state, your local area, and in the nation.

This is not to say that there are not many excellent homes serving the elderly. Certainly most residents receive excellent care. But every group has its bad apples, especially when there is money involved.  In poorly run facilities there may be abuse that is financial, physical, emotional, or mental. This may be even more true for stroke victims. The ombudsman’s job is to visit a nursing home to look for signs of abuse.


Here are some of the major areas where an ombudsman can help you:

  • Can help you to find a facility where you can obtain quality care.
  • Is trained to resolve problems.
  • Can assist you in getting help with complaints.
  • Is certified to perform an investigation to resolve the issue, and must investigate complaints.
  • Has the responsibility to represent the resident’s interest before the interests of government
  • Must provide residents with information about long‑term care, and inform consumers about
    the issues and laws relating to long‑term care.
  • Must educate consumers and long‑term care providers about the rights of residents, and about good care practices.

If you suspect nursing home abuse, or if you just need to reach an ombudsman, call your long‑term care ombudsman (to find the ombudsman, try the Administration on Aging for your state, ( or contact National Long‑term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 425

Washington, DC 20036

202.332.2275 (phone)

202.332.2949 (fax)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (e‑mail)


Nursing Home Residents Have Rights

These include the right:

  • To be treated with dignity and respect
  • To refuse physical or chemical restraints
  • To voice concerns without fear of retaliation
  • To control own finances
  • To communicate privately with anyone they choose
  • To have personal records kept confidential
  • To send and receive mail
  • To be informed of rights before admission
  • To apply for assistance w/o discrimination
  • To be notified of discharge or transfer


Do You Suspect Abuse? Or Are You Being Abused?

Many people who are themselves being abused don’t report the problem because they are embarrassed. If this describes you, you should know, you are not alone. Elder abuse is growing more common especially as economic tensions mount, and as multiple generations of families are forced to live together more often. If there is immediate danger, call 911 or the local police. If the danger  is not immediate, it’s still critical that you tell someone. Tell a doctor, a friend, a pastor or some other person you trust. Or contact Adult Protective Services (APS) in the state where the elder lives.

To find the correct APS office, go to the National Center on Elder Abuse website at

Or use the Eldercare Locator website at

Or call the Eldercare Locator at 1‑800‑677‑1116.

It’s important to remember that the older person has the right to refuse services offered by APS. The APS agency provides service only if the senior agrees or has been declared incapacitated by the court and a guardian has been appointed. The APS agency only takes such action as a last resort.


Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa