Articles Posted in Dementia

In our last post, we suggested tips for confirming that a potential skilled nursing facility or residential nursing home has the appropriate staff to address the needs of elders with dementia. To recap, dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking. This causes many who suffer from dementia to lose the ability to perform their regular activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, though there are multiple types of dementia.

Elders suffering from dementia need special care when they move into a long term care facility such as a California nursing home. If you are considering helping to move a loved one with dementia into a nursing home, there are specific questions you will want to ask about the services provided for your loved one.

Questions should include:

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 can lead to an elder moving into a longterm care residence, such as a nursing home. If you or someone you know is considering placing an elder suffering from dementia in the care of a nursing facility in California, there are certain questions you’ll want to ask of the facility.

In this post, we will specifically talk about what to look for in terms of the staff of a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. In a subsequent article, we’ll talk about other facility services you’ll want to inquire about.

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you should be sure that any nursing home you may be considering is equipped to care for dementia patients, thus allowing for a more beneficial experience for the patient, not to mention a safer one.

Dementia is caused by damaged brain cells, which leads to a deterioration in cognitive abilities, including memory, speech, and dementia-in-women-300x169understanding. Numerous diseases lead to dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 70% of all dementia cases. Other diseases leading to dementia include Parkinson’s disease and vascular disease.

In choosing a home for a dementia patient, you should first carefully evaluate the skills and background of the staff. Understaffing and poorly-trained staff are severe problems in California nursing homes due in part to the rise in the sheer number of patients, but also to health facilities cutting corners to improve profit margins. Staff should be trained specifically in dealing with the symptoms of dementia so that they are aware of the special needs involved. You should inquire about the kind of training staff members receive, whether the training is ongoing, and whether staff is trained in handling the sometimes difficult behavioral characteristics of dementia patients. Finally, excessive administering of psychotropic drugs to patients is a problem that has become rampant in California and across the nation. You should also inquire about the facility’s practices in this regard, and ensure that it follows California and federal law prohibiting off-label use of medications.

locked-houseWhen considering types of elder abuse, neglect and abandonment often come to mind. It is an unpleasant fact however, that elder abuse can and does take many different forms. Financial abuse, for example, can often be just as devastating to a victim as neglect or even physical abuse is. When a person on a fixed income is taken advantage of financially, these victims typically have little to no means of recovering their assets. This is particularly true of elders in Southern California, who are often defenseless or unaware of potential threats— making them easy prey for scammers.

In a case that’s garnered a lot of media attention, two convicted felons were recently charged with holding an 84-year-old woman against her will along with stealing money from the woman and her husband. Here’s an overview of that story:

In August of 2015, 53-year-old Wayne Kim Golden, and his girlfriend, 52, made an agreement with the 84-year-old victim to house her 94-year-old husband with Alzheimer’s, who needed full time in-home care. At some point, Shillings showed up at the female victim’s home in Menifee where the victim still lived independently, and took her back to the residence in Perris where Shillings and Golden cared for her husband. Once at the home, Shilling confiscated the 84-year-old’s car keys and check book, and held her hostage in her home for two weeks.

evictionAccording to a recent report from the Associated Press, elderly residents of nursing homes who are considered to be challenging to care for are often targeted for eviction, and sometimes abuse. Those advocating on behalf of elderly nursing home residents, as well as the disabled elderly, argue that nursing home staff and caregivers are sometimes unwilling to meet the challenges certain elderly residents and patients present, and so steps are undertaken to have these elderly residents evicted from their nursing home facilities.

The goal of these unlawful evictions, advocates argue, are to minimize attention required by staff and to maximize nursing home profits, by switching out need-intensive patients for those who require less direct attention. Some argue that those with involved families, or with families who have complained about prior mistreatment of their elderly loves ones, are also targeted for nursing home evictions.

Another unfortunate detail of this report is, most often the victims of these evictions come from economically disenfranchised backgrounds, and are frequently suffering from dementia. Complaints about these unlawful discharges and evictions are up by 57% since the year 2000. The study reported that, “Complaints and lawsuits across the U.S. point to a spike in evictions even as observers note available records only give a glimpse of the problem.”

scam-onphoneThe National Council on Aging (NCOA) has called financial abuse in elders “the crime of the century,” due to its prevalence in the senior community. In San Diego, as in the rest of the country, seniors are often directly targeted for financial scams—frequently through telemarketing schemes—that prey upon the weaknesses of the elderly.

There are various types of financial and telemarketing schemes that target the elderly, including:

  • Investment Schemes

Each year, more than one in three seniors sustain falls, which result in serious injuries. In some instances, falls are the result of elder or nursing home abuse. But in other instances, falls are purely accidental. An experienced San Diego attorney specializing in elder abuse or nursing home abuse, to include neglect, can help you distinguish if an injury from a fall was an accident or caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another.

As we age, the likelihood of being diagnosed with a medical condition or disorder requiring prescription medication(s) is almost guaranteed. Because of this, far too many elders run the risk of being over-medicated, or experiencing dangerous side effects which increases the risk that an elder may fall. Many seniors are prescribed medications that have dangerous interactions when taken in conjunction with other medications.

To reduce the risk of experiencing potentially dangerous prescription interactions, it is recommended that seniors use caution when taking prescriptions or even over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

When an elder (defined as anyone over the age of 65) falls down, injuries can range from minor bumps or bruises to serious injuries, including bone fractures or even brain injuries. Studies have also shown that even minor falls which produce minute injuries can cause once active elders to become fearful of another fall. Thereby leading them to reduce or eliminate activities they once enjoyed, which can then lead to depression and isolation. Fortunately, there are simple steps that San Diego elders can take to prevent falls, or at least reduce the chances of a fall.

5 Common Factors that may increase a San Diego elder’s chances of falling include:

  • Prescription Medication

slip-and-fallOne of the most common dangers that the elderly encounter in nursing home settings is the potential for falls. According to the CDC, approximately 1,800 elderly adults die each year from fall-related injuries, while those that suffer from injuries as the result of a fall experience a long-term reduction in their quality of life or lasting handicaps and disabilities.

While 2% to 6% of elderly nursing home residents suffer fractures as the result of a fall, 10% to 20% of all elderly falls result in injuries more serious in nature–from cognitive disabilities and post-injury anxiety to an overall decline in both physical and mental health.

One way to prevent a tragic fall from occurring is to arm your self with vital information regarding the common causes that elders fall, and ways to prevent a fall from occurring altogether.

holding hands.pngDementia is described by the Alzheimer’s Association as “an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.” Indeed, there are a variety of types of dementia, depending upon the types of brain cells damaged, and where specifically that damage has occurred within the brain.

Regardless of the type of dementia an elder may have, it is important that symptoms are recognized as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your loved elder. Even if an elder is receiving care or assistance from a family member, in-home caregiver, or residing in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, it is still vital to recognize symptoms of mental decline in elders. This is partly due to the fact that unfortunately, it is believed elders who suffer from some form of dementia are thought to be at greater risk for abuse or neglect than elders who do not have some form of dementia.

In fact, according to one research brief released by the NCEA, three different international studies have found that the rates of elder abuse for elders with dementia ranges from 34%-62%.

Symptoms that a loved elder in your life may be developing dementia include cognitive changes and psychological changes. Some of these changes may include:

*Memory loss/problems
*Trouble choosing the right words
*Disorientation or getting lost
*Challenges in planning/organizing
*Coordination or motor function difficulties
*Agitation or paranoia
*Inappropriate behavior
*Lack of proper personal care and poor nutrition/eating habits
*Difficulty sleeping
*Injuries/personal safety problems

If you believe that a loved elder in your life is beginning to show symptoms of dementia, it is important to take action, though it’s advisable to tread lightly, per the helpful website DementiaToday.com, which provides excellent tips for how to talk to a loved elder about your concerns.

If you have reason to believe that a loved elder with dementia is being abused physically, financially, psychologically, or sexually, it is important that you report your suspicions to the proper authorities:

• The 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 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.

You may also want to seek the advice of an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney who can inform you and your loved one of your rights.
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