Articles Posted in Elder Abuse

shutterstock_264466154-1-300x200Many seniors in the U.S. experience some form of abuse while they are residing in a nursing home. And many cases are unreported. Although neglect is considered a form of abuse, it is also considered a separate type of injury entirely. The distinction is minimal when it comes to ensuring safety for nursing home residents: Either way, you will want to get help for your loved one. However, it is important to recognize the differences and to get clarification on what is truly happening to them in their nursing home. Read on to learn the difference between abuse and neglect.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

The federal government considers abuse “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinements, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.” Nursing home abuse includes several types, including the following:

shutterstock_657828892-300x225Many nursing home residents depend on the assistance of staff to help administer their medication. This is a very important aspect of their lives because medication can be needed to help manage existing health conditions and to ensure that the residents can maintain healthy lives. However, there are times when nursing homes improperly use medication as a chemical restraint.

What is a Chemical Restraint?

Thankfully, most nursing homes would never consider using a physical restraint. However, many institutions do indeed use chemical restraints in the form of psychotropic drugs. These drugs can impact the resident’s thoughts, physical responses, and general behavior.

shutterstock_251528320-300x200One of the main reasons for placing your loved one into a nursing home may be that they need care and supervision they simply can’t get at home. However, this very important factor may be undermined by understaffing in nursing homes. Unfortunately, understaffing in nursing homes is a common problem throughout the country. Read on to learn about the understaffing problems in nursing homes and how the resident to staff ratio can impact the quality of care in these facilities.

Immobile Residents

Since many nursing home residents have mobility issues and have difficulty moving independently, they rely heavily on staff for help. For instance, understaffing can lead to occasions when the staff members are unable to turn the residents in bed enough times or to move them around to avoid muscle atrophy. Because they occur when an individual remains in the same position for too long a period, bedsores can also occur. Immobility can also lead to skin infections, and falls, which can result in even more serious injuries.

shutterstock_1858881685-253x300Older adults have a higher risk of choking. Some have documented medical conditions that put them at even higher risk. Because of this, nursing homes must take reasonable measures to help decrease the chance of it occurring, and be ready to respond quickly when it does. Read on to learn important information on how you can help ensure that your loved one is protected from choking accidents in their nursing home.

Higher Risk of Choking Among the Elderly

As we age, we are at a higher risk of choking due to the mouth and throat muscles beginning to weaken and lose their strength over time, making it more difficult to swallow food. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) affects all ages, but it’s more common in the elderly. Additionally, older people are more vulnerable to choking because the following situations are more likely to occur:

shutterstock_251528320-300x200Skilled Nursing facilities are places for seniors and others who don’t need hospitalization, but can no longer care for themselves at home. Unfortunately, the place that is supposed to be a safe haven is just the opposite when the residents are subjected to abuse. Compared to other forms, sexual abuse in nursing homes doesn’t occur as often, but it appears to be increasing. According to the Administration for Community Living, there have been over 20,000 complaints of sexual abuse in nursing homes over the past 20 years. This equates to be about three people being sexually abused at a nursing home every day.

Because there’s no national database, it’s difficult to know how extensive this problem really is. Given the stigma associated with sexual abuse and the illnesses such as dementia that many patients suffer, many cases go unreported. The Covid-19 panic has only made things worse due to social distancing that has made it more difficult to detect signs of abuse.

Definition of Sexual Abuse

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/10/20.10.16-300x200.jpgOne big fear many families have regarding nursing homes is the lack of appropriate and personalized care for their loved ones. Over the years, there have been countless cases of the elderly being abused and neglected in long term care facilities and nursing homes. Families need to be aware that neglect and abuse in a nursing home do not always present with obvious physical injuries, but rather as emotional abuse. In the majority of cases, elderly patient abuse in nursing homes is due to the actions or inactions of the nursing home staff.

What type of neglect can occur in nursing homes?

  1. Medical Health Neglect: This occurs when the nursing staff fails to attend to, prevent, or treat an existing or new health problem in the senior. For example, patients with strokes who are bedridden are prone to bedsores. Universally there are established protocols to help prevent these skin problems, which are sometimes not followed. For instance, diabetic patients not only need their medications/insulin on time, the nursing staff has to simultaneously monitor the blood sugars, which if not controlled can lead to worsening of any open wound, urinary tract infection, or sepsis. Any time a senior has a change in his/her health status like the development of confusion, weakness, inability to walk or speak, this must be reported immediately to the primary care provider to determine the cause. Failure to do so can seriously compromise the health of the senior.

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/10/20.10.02-003-300x200.jpgA nursing home is a private institution that provides a range of accommodations for elderly people and others in need of support. The CDC has found the risk of illness from COVID-19 increases greatly with age. Older adults with underlying health issues that contract the disease may face additional hospitalization, ventilators, intensive care, and even death. Due to the current global pandemic, it is no surprise nursing homes have been hit extremely hard by the respiratory virus.

Nursing Home Care During COVID-19

Many nursing homes have closed their doors to any visitors, so it is difficult to know what is truly going on in these facilities. Although not every coronavirus-death can be prevented, it is important nursing homes take the follow measures to protect their residents:

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/08/20.08.21-300x200.jpgPlacing a beloved family member in a nursing home or long-term care facility is never easy; it requires a lot of trust to leave their care up to the staff and the facility you’ve chosen. You rightfully expect staff and the nursing home to have the highest standards and provide the best, most compassionate care possible – that includes protecting them from neglect or abuse and addressing any lapses in proper care quickly and thoroughly.

Unfortunately, this often does not happen; in 2017, law enforcement were not alerted in over a quarter of serious nursing home abuse cases despite state and federal laws that mandate police notification. In fact, a pattern of behavior to cover up these abuses has surfaced; this means it’s important to be on the lookout for ways nursing homes could be trying to cover their tracks.

Failure to Comply with Reporting Laws

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/07/shutterstock_616951802-20.07.21-300x200.jpgThe decision to entrust a loved one’s care to a nursing home or long-term care facility is never easy. Selecting the facility can be just as overwhelming as the initial decision itself. California has approximately 1,230 licensed long-term care nursing facilities that provide care for more than 400,000 patients each year – it’s no wonder selecting a single, high-quality facility can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, the federal government has provided a tool that can make it easier to avoid facilities that may create an unsafe environment for your loved one.

Nursing Home Compare Site

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) helps set standards across the nation for long-term care facilities and administer Medicaid and Medicaid payments. They host a website called Nursing Home Compare, which provides data that can help families research facilities and find out information to help them decide on the right place for themselves or their loved one. Currently, nursing homes receive an overall rating, which is determined by combining the results of three categories:

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/07/shutterstock_1422187700-20.07.14-300x200.jpgIn 2018, 52 million Americans aged 65 and older accounted for 16 percent of the country’s population. The size of this group, set to nearly double in the next 40 years, accounts for the high demand of nursing home and long-term care needs in the United States. As people make the difficult decisions about the care of elderly loved ones, it’s reasonable to expect any facility tasked with caring for a family member to exhibit the highest levels of professionalism, compassion, and respect for them at all times.

Unfortunately, far too often this is not the case. Understaffing, lack of proper training, and insufficient supervision of staff members, nurses, nursing assistants, and health aides all contribute to the abuse of these vulnerable patients. It can be difficult to spot emotional or psychological abuse of a patient – unlike physical abuse that results in bruises or broken bones, they often don’t present obvious signs that something is going wrong.

The difficulty is even greater with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in family members being allowed little or no in-person contact with nursing home residents to visit and observe them for signs of abuse. However, it’s still possible to understand common types of emotional abuse and look for signs it may be occurring, even if the victim won’t admit outright that they are being abused.

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