What to do when things go missing in a nursing home
October 21, 2019

Q: My mother was recently placed in a long term care facility because her needs could no longer be met at home. The other day when I visited her she looked very unkempt and was wearing clothes that were not hers. I carefully marked all of the clothes that I brought for her and told the home I would be doing her laundry. Half of her clothes were missing and no one could tell me where they were. I realize this may seem insignificant to some people but my mother had expensive taste and I am disturbed her clothes have disappeared. How can I handle this issue?

A: Other families have had similar experiences. It appears you attempted to take the right steps by marking all of your mother’s clothes and informed the facility you would be responsible for doing her laundry. If you didn’t already do so, post signs on her closet stating family will be doing her laundry and not to remove any items from the room.

Request a meeting with facility staff to discuss this issue. Make sure someone has checked in the home’s laundry department to see if her clothes are there and request other rooms be checked in the event the clothes were given to the wrong resident. If you don’t seem to get any satisfaction you always have the option of contacting the Ombudsman that is assigned to the facility.

Give the Ombudsman background information regarding the problem you have experienced and ask if it is appropriate for his/her involvement.

“The long term care Ombudsman is an advocate working to resolve problems related to the health, welfare and rights of individuals living in nursing or rest homes.” This is a program mandated by the

Federal Older Americans Act. Every Ombudsman is highly trained and certified to attempt resolutions with staff whenever they become aware of an issue reported to them by the resident or family involved. While the Ombudsman typically responds to more serious issues within the facility they may be able to assist you in this matter and may have additional suggestions. Anyone who has concerns about the quality of care in a long term care facility can find an Ombudsman assigned to a particular facility by calling 800-243-4636.


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.

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