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How should facilities handle remains of residents after they’ve passed away?

If your family member or loved one resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, do you know the facility’s procedure for the handling of human remains? Do you know how your loved one’s wishes for burial or cremation will be carried out, if at all? Have you or the resident communicated those wishes to someone at the facility? These are all questions no one wants to ask, and that are generally uncomfortable to answer. However, the consequences of failing to address these issues before the death of a family member or friend residing in a nursing home are emotionally devestating and sometimes irreversable.

Elderly patients cannot always be relied upon to provide complete and accurate information to facility administrators and employees. To ensure that a resident’s wishes are honored upon their death, put those wishes in writing as early as the first day of their residency. Not all facility employees will ask for directions that are this personal and sensitive. Not all family members will want to provide such instructions. While it is the duty of the facility to gather this information and maintain records reflecting these instrucitons, it is a detail that, when overlooked, can lead to wrongful cremation or burial. If a nursing home or assited living facility has disposed of a resident’s remains after their death, without consideration of the resident’s wishes, there may be damages owed the family members of that resident.

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