Recently in Reporting Elder Abuse Category

Feeding Tubes in Southern California Nursing Homes

April 6, 2014

Thousands of elders reside in nursing homes in Southern California. Many of them require a feeding tube temporarily, or even on a permanent basis. Feeding tubes may prove the only source of nutrition for some residents of California nursing homes. It is vital that these feeding tubes be perfectly inserted and maintained in order to ensure proper functionality, and to prevent potentially life threatening conditions including infection and choking.

The staff working inside a California nursing home must be properly trained in the correct procedures required when working with an elder with a feeding tube. It is crucial that bacteria is not allowed to grow in the tube, lest it leads to infection. Likewise, it is imperative that the skin around the insertion site of the feeding tube remain clean and dry at all times. Some elders requiring a feeding tube must have the ice keeping the food fresh replaced regularly, and still others need to be monitored closely to ensure that feeding tubes remain securely positioned in a specific place. All elders in California requiring a feeding tube must have their heads kept above the level of the tube.

When the staff working in California nursing homes neglect to take proper care of residents who require a feeding tube, they not only endanger the elder, but they are also breaking the law.

If you have reason to believe that an elder who requires a feeding tube has been neglected while in the care of a Southern California nursing home, you should consider contacting an ombudsman and/or filing a complaint with the California Department of Public Health. You should also consider receiving a free consolation with a Southern California elder abuse attorney. At Walton Law, APC, nursing home neglect cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning we do not collect any money from you unless we resolve your claim.


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Wandering In Nursing Homes: What You Need To Know

March 29, 2014

According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. Dementia, which is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking, causes many who suffer from it to lose the ability to perform their regular activities.

Elders are stricken with dementia far more than any other age group. In many cases, dementia is the reason an elder moves into a nursing home. Dementia is also often to blame for what is known as "elopement" or in layman's terms, wandering. Elders with dementia may develop wandering tendencies, wherein due to cognitive impairment, they begin to wander around their nursing home unsupervised and without an escort.

Wandering may lead to serious injury as the result of falling. In some cases wandering has even led to death, in cases where residents have wandered outside of their residential facility. Though rare, wandering is dangerous enough that lawmakers included provisions to protect against it in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The law required that nursing homes must provide residents with adequate supervision in effort to prevent elderly patients from wandering. That means of course, that nursing homes must be properly staffed.

In order to determine whether the California nursing home an elder currently resides in, or a nursing home that an elder may be considering residing in, provides adequate staffing, meet with administrators to ask the following questions:

• How many of the staff members are awake during the night?
• Does the staff employ people who specialize in working with elders with dementia?
• What is the ratio of staff members to residents?
• Are staff members assigned to specific residents, or do all staff members work with all residents?
• What kind of ongoing education and training in dementia does the staff receive?
• How does the staff handle residents who wander?
• Who supervises the staff responsible for caring for elders with dementia? What are their qualifications?

In addition to asking these questions, you'll certainly want to take a tour of the facility, and observe the other residents. Moreover, conduct a bit of research about the facility to check for violations, license suspensions, and complaints. Choosing to place an elder suffering from dementia into a California nursing home or skilled nursing facility is never an easy decision. However, you can safeguard your loved ones better by doing your research, asking a lot of questions and visiting the facility yourself.

If someone you know has been injured by wandering in a Southern California nursing home, report the injury immediately. You should also schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney, who can explain your legal rights. Christopher C. Walton is a peer recognized, and legal industry honored San Diego, California based elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been a victim of elder abuse, please call (619) 233-0011 for a free and confidential consultation with an elder abuse attorney.

How Do California Nursing Homes Stack Up?

February 17, 2014

When and if the time comes to help your elderly loved one to move into a nursing home, you're likely to feel apprehension over putting them into the care of virtual strangers. When that is coupled by the alarming statistics of financial and physical abuse of elders in long term care facilities, the thought of your loved one being harmed often becomes downright frightening.

Of course, there are countless California nursing homes that provide loving, compassionate and professional care for elders. But the sad reality is that many do not. In fact, many California nursing homes provide substandard care, and practices. It was precisely this reality that prompted the non-profit citizen advocacy group Families for Better Care to analyze, compare and rank each state's nursing home quality. Each state was then given a grade, which is available at www.nursinghomereportcards.com

The methodology Better Care for Families uses to rank states includes:
• State's average registered nurse (RN) hours per resident per day
• State's average certified nurse assistant hours (CNA) hours per resident per day
• Percentage of facilities with above average[2] registered nurse staffing
• Percentage of facilities with above average direct care staffing
• Percentage of facilities with above average health inspections
• Percentage of facilities with deficiencies (Calendar Year 2012)
• Percentage of facilities with severe deficiencies[3] (CY12)

Sadly, California received only a C rating. Families for Better Care based this rating on the following conclusions:
• California nursing home residents interact with professional nursing home staff only 43 minutes per day--36th worst in the nation.
• Rampant problems plague California nursing homes as 9 out of 10 facilities cited a deficiency.
• Only 10% of California nursing homes cited a severe deficiency, among the lowest in the nation and the best ranked California measure.
• California nursing home care ranks second to last in the Pacific Region.

While these statistics are discouraging, there are ways to verify that a nursing home you're considering for a loved one, is providing the quality care the elder in your life deserves. The website www.senioradvisor.com/ provides real reviews from visitors and residents of various nursing homes throughout the country, including those in San Diego California. By entering your zip code, you'll find reviews of dozens of elderly care facilities, in and around San Diego, complete with reviews by actual residents and their families. It's also a smart idea to bring this Nursing Home Checklist with you, when visiting any long term skilled nursing facility in Southern California.

There is no excuse for elder abuse, nor any shame in being a victim of elder abuse. If you or someone you know has been abused, report the incident immediately. To report elder abuse in San Diego, contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services 9335 Hazard Way, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123 (858) 495-5660 (800) 510-2020 (local) (800) 339-4661.


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SeniorAdvisor.com: Read Reviews About California Nursing Homes

February 12, 2014

How many of us rely on Yelp! to find a new restaurant? Or look for a new handyman on Angieslist? We do so because we want to know if a place is up to par, don't we? We enjoy reading about the experiences that others have had with a particular establishment. I'm happy to report that this concept has been expanded to include California nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and long term residential facilities. The website offering these reviews is www.SeniorAdvisor.com.

The best way to put an end to elder abuse is to prevent it from even happening in the first place. By researching the reviews of people who have had actual experience with various nursing homes and residential facilities for the elderly in California, you may save yourself a great deal of heartache in the future.

On SeniorAdvisor.com, you are also able to view photos of facilities, arrange visits to specific California elder care facilities, and once you have visited, post your own review. You can also sign up for email alerts about particular nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The website claims to receive more than 500 new reviews per week.

Elder abuse is a growing epidemic of financial, physical, and chemical abuse that elders suffer at the hands of those charged with caring for them. There is simply no excuse for taking advantage of those who may be most susceptible to being victimized. Elder abuse in California takes the forms of neglect, financial abuse, physical abuse & restraints, sexual abuse, chemical abuse and medication errors.

If you suspect an elder is being abused while in a long term nursing facility in California, err on the side of caution and report your suspicions. Our elderly citizens deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their later years, and as such every resident of a long term care facility in California is granted certain rights. If you suspect that these rights are being violated, contact Adult Protective Services, an Ombudsman and/or an elder abuse attorney immediately.


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A New Year and a New Opportunity to Protect Elders

January 6, 2014

Happy 2014 from Walton Law, APC. We hope that you enjoyed your holidays, and are excited about the opportunities in store for you and your loved ones in this New Year. As you're setting personal goals, and making plans for the next 12 months, we wanted to encourage you to remember to keep an eye on the elders in your life.

Sadly, elder abuse did not disappear with the changing of the calendar, so we thought it worthwhile to remind everyone that elder abuse may be a criminal or civil offense. In California, elders are defined as anyone aged 65 and older. Criminal elder abuse applies to instances in which an elder suffers physically or mentally as the result of the actions of another. It also includes instances where the health and wellbeing of an elder are endangered. Civil offenses can also include physical pain or suffering, but also includes neglect, financial abuse, deprivation of medicines and personal items needed for hygiene and health.

This year, if you have family members or friends in a skilled nursing facility, or long term residential nursing home, make sure you take the time to ask them how they are being treated. By putting forth an extra effort to ask elders how they are being treated, we can confirm that our loved ones are being treated with dignity, respect, and that they are being treated lawfully. However, if you suspect any form of abuse, report it immediately to:

• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040

• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024

• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660, or the Eldercare Locator help line at 1-800-677-1116.

All elders in California nursing homes have the right to quality care and attention, regardless of their age or health. If those rights are denied, abuse must be reported. For tips on reporting suspected neglect and/or abuse in a California nursing home, the Justice Department has a helpful citizen's guide that can be found at the following website: http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf.


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Tips For Keeping Your Identity Safe From Theft During The Holidays

December 24, 2013

Identity theft typically spikes during the holiday season, and as such, it's worth reiterating the fact that elders may be at an increased risk of becoming victims of identity theft. In fact, according to information provided by the FTC, "Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to this crime because their personal information may be easily accessible by numerous individuals."

Fortunately, The Hanover Insurance Group has provided terrific tips for keeping your identity safe over the holidays. We've selected just a few, but the entire article can be viewed on the Wall Street Journal online, by clicking here.

• Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks.

• Don't leave your credit card visible for extended time. ID thieves can quickly write down your card number, or may even try to take pictures of it with their mobile devices.

• Watch out for "shoulder surfers." Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using checkout key pads and ATMs.

• Keep a paper trail. Save records of your online transactions. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them and, if there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.

Financial abuse of the elderly is a crime. If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of identity theft while in the care of a California nursing home, please be sure to contact law enforcement and Adult Protective Services.


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Los Angeles' ABC News 7 Shining Light on California's Department of Public Health's Backlog of Nursing Home Complaints

November 11, 2013

Los Angeles ABC 7 News recently partnered with the Center for Investigating Reporting to shine a light on alleged abuse cases, which are being poorly investigated by the California Department of Public Health. The partnership has revealed that the agency is leaving allegations of elder abuse unexamined for years.

According to ABC-7's website: "Investigators at California's Department of Public Health are responsible for keeping dangerous people out of the health care business. But an investigation by our partners at the Center for Investigative Reporting says the agency is failing to protect some of the state's most vulnerable: the elderly.

They've uncovered alleged abuse cases that the agency left unexamined for years -- even some that ended with fatal results.

Elsie Fossum died from injuries she sustained at Claremont Place, an assisted living facility in Pomona. Seven years later, her nephew, Jim Fossum, says the family is still waiting to hear from investigators at California's Department of Public Health about how his aunt died. "It was being investigated by the department. You figure they're going to find something if there was something there, not that they'd just put the thing away and forget about it essentially," said Fossum.

The facility initially told the family that Elsie Fossum died from injuries she got when she fell down. "That wasn't the result of a fall, that was punching," said Beverlee McPherson, former nursing director at Claremont Place. McPherson visited Fossum in the hospital. "Her face looked like Muhammad Ali did a dance on it. And you could see knuckles. Her eyes were so badly swollen and just hanging. She was miserable. It was very sad to see," said McPherson.

McPherson believes that the nursing assistant who worked the night shift beat the elderly patient in her care. Elsie Fossum died less than three weeks later from her injuries. Claremont Place declined to comment for this story. The coroner's report concluded she was potentially the victim of an assault. But despite evidence pointing to a crime, the Department of Public Health's investigators sat on the case.

Yearly investigations totals obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting from the Department of Public Health show there was a steady increase in outstanding complaint cases at the time Fossum died. And that backlog was especially severe in Southern California, where she lived.

Marc Parker believes that's because some investigators weren't doing their jobs. Parker worked at the department for 24 years, and he oversaw investigations at the time of Fossum's death. He inspected the Southern California office and says what he found there was chaos. "I was appalled. There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of unassigned, uninvestigated complaints in file drawers," said Parker.

Parker says his superiors at the department pressured him and his investigators to close cases quickly and efficiently. They were ordered to wrap up at least 10 cases a month. Dr. Ron Chapman took over the Department of Public Health in 2011. He admits the department's investigations section was poorly managed, but he says now they're making changes. "A backlog for investigating complaints is inexcusable, should not have occurred. We've made a lot of progress since then. So today, any complaints that come in, they're being screened within 48 hours and we're not building a backlog today," said Chapman.

That's little comfort to Fossum's family. Despite questions surrounding her death, her case was closed in 2012 without any further action. In an email, the department admits it should have "identified this allegation as a high priority," and says, "We regret that did not happen."

Even though the Department of Public Health closed the Fossum case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has decided to take another look. A detective there says they opened a homicide investigation into her death earlier this year,"

Families, friends, loved ones, and employees of California skilled nursing facilities, California nursing homes, long term care facilities in Southern California must speak up for the elderly if any form of abuse is suspected. In addition to reporting to the California Department of Public Healthy, if you suspect abuse, report it immediately to:

• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040.

• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024

• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660, or the Eldercare Locator help line at 1-800-677-1116.

If you suspect that a friend, family member, or loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced San Diego, California elder abuse lawyer to help evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed. Christopher Walton has years of experience providing caring, compassionate representation to victims of elder abuse and their families. He can help you reach out to any of the above agencies and advocate for your rights. Call (619) 233-0011 for a confidential consultation.

Consequences of Neglect

September 13, 2013

Elder abuse typically refers to the knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a custodial care provider, caregiver, or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. In California, anyone aged 65 and older is protected by the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The laws are designed to help prevent neglect and abuse to California seniors. Neglect falls within the definition of elder abuse, and unfortunately may have dire consequences to the victim.

In broadest terms, neglect is a type of elder abuse wherein a caregiver fails to provide the elder with basic needs including water, food, shelter, heat/air-conditioning, personal hygiene products and medical assistance. Failure to adequately move or reposition a bedridden elder, for example constitutes neglect, just as failing to keep elders properly nourished and hydrated constitutes neglect.

Neglect is particularly dangerous for elders, as it can lead to life-threatening consequences. Such consequences of neglect include:

*Bedsores
*Sepsis (infection)
*Dehydration
*Malnutrition

All patients entering into a nursing home have the right to quality care and attention, regardless of their age or health. If those rights are denied, as in the form of neglect; elder abuse must be reported. For tips on reporting suspected neglect and/or abuse in a California nursing home, the Justice Department has a helpful citizen's guide that can be found at the following website: http://ag.ca.gov/bmfea/pdfs/citizens_guide.pdf.

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Three Ways to Help Put an End to Elder Abuse

August 17, 2013

Elder abuse has been called an epidemic and is viewed by many as a national crisis, for good reason. As many as five million elders in the United States are abused, neglected, or exploited each year and 90% of these cases are perpetrated by family members or trusted advisors. The National Center of Elder Abuse has said that only one of every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported, while others put the number as high as one out of every 23 cases. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.

If you're like me, those statistics are simply staggering, and we cannot continue to ignore this problem. But, how can work to stop elder abuse? Well, there are actually a number of ways you can help in the fight to end elder abuse. Here are three ways you can help today.

1. Let your legislators know that you are an advocate for nursing home reform legislation. This would involve sitting down and simply stating your position to your elected official in writing. It is their job to represent the voice of his/her constituents. You can find your legislators here. Let them know that you find the statistics alarming, and that you support measures to help reform the nursing home industry to prevent additional abuse to elders.

2. Report Suspicions. If you suspect an elder is being abused in any capacity, while in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home; report the incident to both the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the California Department of Public Health. You should also consider reporting to Adult Protective Services Agency.

If you suspect an elder is being abused outside of a long-term care facility, such as in a private residence, contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency. The APS provides assistance to adults and elderly who are functionally impaired, and who may be victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. All APS agencies in California have a 24/7 hotline that may be called to report suspected abuse.

3. File Complaints. If you have a complaint about a particular nursing home or residence facility, file a complaint with the Licensing and Certification Department of the Health Services. The Licensing and Certification Department is obligated to begin any investigation within ten days of receipt of them.

If you are interested in getting involved in nursing home reform, a great resource is the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).

If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse, you deserve quality representation. For a free and confidential consultation with one of San Diego's highly regarded experts in the field of elder abuse, contact Walton Law APC today.

There's No Excuse for Unnecessary Restraints in Nursing Homes

August 10, 2013

Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that unnecessarily restraining elders while in a long term skilled nursing facility or nursing home is against the law, countless elders are physically restrained in nursing homes every year. It is important that if you know someone who is being unnecessarily restrained in a California nursing home, that you notify the proper authorities immediately.

Physical restraints include leg and arm restraints, hand mitts, vests, ties, or strategic positioning of an elder so as to restrict their movement. Methods for restraining elders in California nursing homes have included belts, using bars, trays, tables, bed rails, or positioning a wheel chair against a wall so that the elder cannot move.

The fact that this misuse of authority continues to victimize elders is unfathomable, as there are so many alternatives to restraint to ensure that elders remain safe while in the care of a nursing home. However, some people still using restraints under the guise of "keeping the elder safe." The truth is, there are many ways to keep elders safe, without physically restraining their mobility. These include things such as:

• Utilizing pillows and pads to support elders in a comfortable position
• Confirming that wheelchairs are adjusted properly
• Making use of bedrails to help elders safely get out of bed and move around
• Providing training for using walking devices
• Providing therapy or restorative care to assist the elderly with physical movement
• Making sure that the height of the elder's bed is appropriate (same for bed rails)
• Personally helping the elder to get out of bed, to walk, etc.

If you suspect someone you know is being physically restrained in anyway, ask questions. If you are told that the restraining practices are for your loved one's own good, be on alert. The physical restriction of an elderly resident in a California nursing home should never prevent them from activities in which they should be able to engage.

If you have questions or concerns about the treatment of a loved one in a California nursing home is receiving, contact a local ombudsman and/or the California Department of Public Health.


What Should I Expect if I Call To Report Elder Abuse in Southern California?

July 24, 2013

We all have the responsibility to report elder abuse and neglect if we suspect it. Of course, if you believe that an elder is in a life-threatening situation, you should immediately call 911 and Adult Protective Services. However, if there doesn't appear to be immediate danger to the elder, you should instead, report your suspicions to both the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the California Department of Public Health.

If you suspect an elder is being abused outside of a long-term care facility, such as in a private residence, contact your local Adult Protective Services Agency. APS provides assistance to adults and elderly who are functionally impaired, and who may be victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. All APS agencies in California have a 24/7 hotline that may be called to report suspected abuse.

In San Diego County, you may also contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services 9335 Hazard Way, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123 (858) 495-5660, or the Eldercare Locator help line at 1-800-677-1116.

When you decide to call to report your suspicions, you will likely be asked to provide some specific information and answer a few questions which may include some of the following:

*Name and location of the elder you're concerned about.
*Contact information for the elder you suspect is being abused/neglected.
*Are you aware of medical problems they may suffer from (confusion, dementia, etc)?
*Have you witnessed abuse?
*Your name, and contact information (though in many cases your anonymity may be protected).
*What, specifically, leads you to believe that an elder may be a victim of abuse?

We all have an obligation to report elder abuse whenever we suspect it. By law, those working in skilled nursing homes or long term care facilities are mandated to report suspected abuse. If fact failure by a mandated reporter to report abuse can be considered a crime in California.


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Financial Abuse & Elders: Common Scams

June 29, 2013

Financial abuse of the elderly is rampant, and often has devastating consequences for those who fall victim to financial fraud and scams. As our elders are often vulnerable to this type of abuse, it makes sense to learn about some of the more typical cons and scams that are targeted towards elders.

Bogus Long Term Care Medi-Cal Benefit

Applying for insurance is confusing enough as it is. But for elders, who may be trying to qualify for insurance for long term care in a California nursing home, the process can quickly go from being confusing to being abuse.

Unfortunately, individuals with bad intentions and greedy motivations capitalize on the fact that insurance is so confusing. One of the most common hustles involves selling elderly citizen various "services and products" supposedly designed to help the elder to pre-qualify for Medi-Cal. The prices are exorbitant, and in some cases individual seniors have been taken for up to $20,000. Tactics used to trick elders into paying for these services include false and misleading information and scare tactics.

If you or someone you love believes that someone is trying to sell you these types of unnecessary Medi-Cal products or services under the guise of helping you pre-qualify for assistance, refuse to sign anything before obtaining additional information.

Unsavory, Unethical "Trust Mills"

Elders solicited by people claiming to be Medi-Cal Specialists should be on alert. These individuals initially offer a free seminar for seniors on how they can protect their assets. However, upon attending these seminars, unnecessary estate planning services, preparation of wills, trusts and annuities are promoted, often using scare tactics. The sales pitch includes telling seniors that Medi-Cal may file an estate claim on their home or assets if they don't buy these products and services. Thousands of elders in California have fallen victim to this scam, and have even had their applications for long term Medi-Cal assistance negatively affected as a result of buying these products.

If you or a loved one is being solicited by these types of fake, fraudulent financial advisors, it is in your best interest to obtain additional information before buying any of these products. Christopher C. Walton is a San Diego, California based elder abuse attorney who specializes in advocacy for elders. Chris welcomes questions and provides free, confidential consultations. Contact Chris at (619) 233-0011 for a free and confidential consultation.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June 15, 2013

This year World Elder Abuse Awareness day falls on June 15th. We sincerely hope that people stand up and take notice of the growing epidemic of financial, physical, and chemical abuse that elders suffer at the hands of those charged with caring for them. There is simply no excuse for taking advantage of those who may be most susceptible to being victimized.

We encourage everybody to renew efforts to keep our eyes open for any signs of abuse towards elders. Elder abuse can come in many shapes and sizes including neglect, financial abuse, physical abuse & restraints, sexual abuse, chemical abuse and medication errors.

We also encourage anyone who suspects an elder is being abused while in a long term nursing facility to err on the side of caution and report your suspicions. Our elderly citizens deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their later years. Every resident of a long term care facility is granted certain rights. If you suspect that these rights are being violated, we urge you to contact an elder abuse attorney immediately. It is our hope that by continuing to shed light on this growing problem we can come together to arrest the growing problem of elder abuse, while preventing future abuse.

Christopher C. Walton is a San Diego, California elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to abuse while as a resident of a nursing home, or in their own home, contact (619) 233-0011 for a free and confidential consultation.

Why Does Elder Abuse Go Unreported?

June 6, 2013

Elder abuse is believed to be widely under-reported. The National Center of Elder Abuse has said that only one of every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported, while others put the number as high as one out of every 23 cases. All told, however, the Senate Special Commission on Aging estimates that there may be as many as 5 million victims of elder abuse a year.

But with new laws which expand the definition of mandated reporter, why do so many cases of elder abuse go unreported? Experts believe that elderly victims fail to report for a number of reasons:

• No Family To Report Abuse To - Elders being abused may not have family members to talk to about abuse. If the abuse is occurring at the hand of a caretaker in a nursing home facility for example, and the elder has no remaining family, they may not report the abuse.

• Fear Of Retaliation - Elders being abused in a residential nursing facility may be fearful that reporting the abuse will only result in worse abuse from their caregivers.

• Shame In Regards To Abuse - Elders may feel ashamed of abuse being directed towards them, and feel too embarrassed to talk about it with someone they trust. This is a common phenomenon that victims of any type of abuse may experience.

• Fear Of Loss Of Independence - This is particularly true of elders who still live alone, but have a caregiver who comes to their home. Because of a fear that they will be forced into a residential facility, they often don't report abuse at the hands of family members or private caregivers.

• Fear of Upsetting The Family - Elders who are being abused by a family member may not report the abuse for fear of bringing shame to the family, or causing problems within the greater family dynamic.

• Lack Of Understanding Of How To Report - Elders may be reluctant to report abuse simply because they don't know who to report it to, or how to file a report.

There is no excuse for elder abuse, nor any shame in being a victim of elder abuse. If you or someone you know has been abused, report the incident immediately. To report elder abuse in San Diego, contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services 9335 Hazard Way, Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92123 (858) 495-5660; (800) 510-2020; (800) 339-4661.

Continue reading "Why Does Elder Abuse Go Unreported?" »

Chemical Restraint In Nursing Homes

May 24, 2013

Elder abuse can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and a form of abuse known as chemical restraint (over-drugging). Chemical restraint includes using powerful medications (including anti-psychotics) to sedate elders in nursing homes. In the worst cases, chemical restraint has been used as a means of punishing elder residents in nursing homes.

Also known as over-drugging, this practice is unfortunately all too common, though it is not always reported. However, chemically restraining elderly residents of nursing homes is absolutely illegal in California.

In particular, nursing homes have been accused in many instances of administering strong anti-psychotic medications to elderly residents who do not require them. In more than one instance, residents of nursing homes have died as the result of this form of elder abuse. Thankfully, legislators are beginning to take notice of the problem of over-drugging elders in nursing homes, and last year California nursing homes saw a reduction of unnecessary use of anti-psychotics by 8.5%. This is great news compared to 39 other states, but fell fall short of the goal of reducing the use of these drugs by 15%.

It's encouraging that we are making progress, in terms of trying to eradicate elder abuse once and for all; yet that still means that thousands of elders in nursing homes in California are falling victim to chemical restraining techniques. This obviously means that we must work together to report suspected over-drugging or unnecessary medicating in all nursing homes.

Signs or symptoms that an elder is being chemically restrained or overmedicated in a nursing home may include:

• Increased lethargy or confusion
• Extreme changes in behavior
• Sudden changes in health

If you suspect that a loved one is being chemically restrained or over-drugged while in a long term nursing facility, contact Christopher C. Walton today for a free and confidential consultation. Chris is a California elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. Chris can be reached at (619) 233-0011.