Articles Posted in Preventing Elder Abuse

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

In a study conducted by the WHO in 2017, it was estimated that 15.7 percent of people aged 60 or older experienced some sort of abuse, such as physical, verbal, emotional and/or financial, when the WHO reviewed collected data from 52 studies in 28 countries. Of note, in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, 2 out of 3 staff members reported committing elder abuse within the past year. The WHO described abuse in institutions to include, but not be limited to, “physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity (for instance, by leaving them in soiled clothes) and choice over daily affairs; intentionally providing insufficient care (such as allowing them to develop pressure sores); over- and under-medicating and withholding medication from patients; and emotional neglect and abuse.”

The need for innovation and transformative procedures is highly desired in the elder community. In a press release issued last month by Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, they announced that Rutgers’ Institute of Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research School is setting out to change those statistics and was permitted over $1.4 million in federal grants from The Elder Justice Innovation Grants which was established by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in 2016. In their joint press release, Sen. Booker and Sen. Menendez agreed that Americans should not have to worry about falling prey to exploitation and abuse as they age, especially when suffering from an incurable disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Thousands of elders become victims of financial abuse each year. Studies have sought to determine why so many elders fall prey to financial scams, and by and large, it is the vulnerability of elders that puts them at greatest risk for being victimized. Whether that abuse is initiated via phone scams, where thieves claim to be from the IRS, or via people who are trying to scam elders via a trust mill, there are a lot of people seeking to take advantage of elders in California.

Senior seminars, which advertise a free lunch, are yet another common scam used for financial predators to target potential victims. The scam works like this:

*There is a “Senior Seminar” advertised/offered which provides a free lunch.

There are plenty of opportunists (read: criminals) looking for ways to obtain the sensitive, personal information of seniors. From digging through trash, to stealing from mailboxes, identity theft is alive and well in 2015. Many criminals specifically seek out the information of California seniors, who may be more vulnerable to having their identity stolen.

While there is no foolproof way to guarantee that your private information (date of birth, bank account numbers, social security number, etc.) won’t fall into the hands of someone with bad intentions, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you or an elder you love will fall prey to identity theft.

  1. Shred Everything

If a loved elder in your family is showing signs that they need assistance in their lives because they are no longer able to manage everything as they once did, it’s time to consider what type of help/assistance they need. There are many different types of assistance available, ranging from housekeepers to attorneys.

Here’s a look at the different types of assistance available for seniors in San Diego.

1. Emergency Response Alarms Because so many elders fall each year, with many facing grave injuries or illness as the result of a fall, it’s imperative that an elder at risk for falling have an in-home emergency response device installed. This will ensure that an elder who has fallen will receive appropriate and immediate treatment.

2. Non-Medical In-Home Assistance The types of services offered through non-medical in-home assistants may include transportation to appointments, help with grocery shopping and meal preparation, bill paying, housekeeping and even just companionship. However, it’s crucial that you thoroughly check references of any one who will be assisting a loved elder. Seek out only those who are bonded and insured for added assurance that your loved elder will be well cared for.

3. Respite Care/Spousal Care Respite care or spousal care is available for family members who choose to care for their loved elder themselves. Because caregivers and spouses may face challenges in caring for their loved ones, you may wish to contact the San Diego Regional Office of Respite Services to help find assistance so that the caregiver may have time off to attend to personal tasks and obligations.

4. Residential Care Assisted Living Homes
Assisted living homes will generally offer elders a wide variety of services including meals, laundry, daily activity assistance, medication supervision and/or transportation services. To find an assisted living facility in San Diego, you may consider visiting SeniorHomes.com to begin your search for the best facility for your loved one.

If you are uncertain as to what type of assistance your loved elder needs, you may want to consult a Geriatric Care Manager, such as those available at www.eldercareguides.com. These San Diego experts will work with you to determine what types of care your elder may require, and provide you with a host of options to meet your needs.

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For many Californians the time comes when their loved elderly parent or family member may need some help within their home. Whether they need help with meal preparation, personal health and hygiene, or just some help around the home and with errands, finding the right person to care for your elder can be stressful.

Types of in-home caregivers for elders may range from a weekly housekeeper to a certified nursing assistant, or skilled care worker. The range of services provided may be cleaning the home, dispensing medication, helping the elder with transportation, or home care workers may help with personal care such as bathing, and monitoring overall health.

Once you determine the type of care your loved elder needs, there are many places to find compassionate, qualified in-home caregivers. Consider beginning your search by asking for referrals from friends and family, or from a doctor specializing in senior care. You can also check job postings such as those found in the newspaper, or online on sites including www.Caring.com.

According to WebMD, “Clinical depression in the elderly is common. That doesn’t mean it’s normal. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression.”

Depression in elders can be particularly troubling, as it tends to increase the likelihood of prolonged illnesses, and/or the onset of disease. WebMD states: “Depression in the elderly often increases their risk of cardiac diseases. Depression doubles an elderly person’s risk of cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness. At the same time, depression reduces an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate. Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Depression also has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack. For that reason, making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is important, even if the depression is mild.”

Signs and symptoms of depression in elders may include:

Opportunists continue to seek occasions to defraud elders out of money, and one of the many ways they continue to try to do it is through phone scams. In fact, according to the National Consumers League nearly 1/3 of phone fraud victims are over the age of 60. In recent years one of the newest scams involves a caller claiming to be from the IRS.

The scam works like this:

A caller impersonating an IRS employee will call and notify the resident that they owe a substantial amount of money in back taxes. They often then threaten the victim with an arrest warrant, or seizure of property if they do not pay the taxes immediately, via a pre-paid debit card, bringing a check to a particular location, wiring the money, or paying through PayPal. They often state from the start that the “debt” cannot be paid with a credit card.

Understaffing nursing homes is incredibly dangerous to adults over 65 residing in long-term care facilities such as Southern California nursing homes. That’s precisely why specific laws and regulations are in place which mandate proper staffing at long-term care facilities.

Under California law, “The facility shall employ an adequate number of qualified personnel to carry out all of the functions of the facility” Health & Safety Code § 1599.1(a). Moreover, Health & Safety Code §1276.5-1276.65 mandates that nursing homes must provide a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day.

Unfortunately, many facilities choose to ignore the California law. Even worse, the understaffing of nursing homes has been directly correlated to abuse and neglect of elders. Indeed, understaffing in California nursing homes leads to substandard care over and over again. Substandard care in nursing homes then leads to illness, injury, and too often, death.

Elders being admitted to a long-term care facility, such as a Southern California nursing home, are granted certain rights. These rights are protected by regulations on both the State and Federal level. Specifically, these rights are guaranteed by the California Code of Regulations, the California Health and Safety Codes, the California Welfare & Institutions Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations. All California elders entering into a nursing home are granted these rights by law.

Unfortunately, this does not mean their rights are protected and upheld by the facility and staff members. It is important that anyone considering placing an elder into a long-term care facility understands these rights. Rights are granted on pre-admission, while in residence, and transfer and discharge basis.

Pre-Admission Rights
As a potential resident of a long-term care facility, such as a California nursing home, residents’ rights are granted before being admitted. Each potential resident has the right to:

•Visit the facility
•Review the license and certification of the facility
•Review the admission agreement
•Inquire into cost of care, optional services and coverage provided by Medicare or Medi-Cal
•Be informed of all rights in a language that is understandable to the resident
•Be informed of the nursing home’s rules and regulations
•Review all contracts thoroughly before signing
•Be made aware of what basic services are included in cost, and what services are optional
•Be made aware of right to apply for Medicare or Medi-Cal, and be granted assistance in applying for this coverage
•Refuse to have a cosigner
•Refuse to provide a deposit, if you are the beneficiary of Medi-Cal or Medicare
•Refuse to delay rights to receive Medicare or Medi-Cal
•Refuse to sign an arbitration agreement
•Receive the Patient’s Bill of Rights

In-Residence Rights
Federal and State laws further guarantee residents of California nursing homes certain rights while living in the facility, including:

•The right to be treated with respect and dignity
•The right to privacy during treatment
•The right to privacy during personal care
•The right to choose your personal physician
•The right to participate in one’s own treatment planning and decision making
•The right to receive care to ensure proper personal hygiene
•The right to reside in a clean, sanitary facility
•The right to receive proper nutrition in quality and quantity as per physician’s recommendations
•The right to manage your own financial affairs
•The right to refuse care/treatment
•The right to make advance directives including power of attorney, DNR
•The right to voice grievances and/or suggest policy changes to the facility without fear of repercussions
•The right to make and receive phone calls privately
•The right to privacy in visits from family members and friends
•The right to be completely free from abuse, chemical restraints and physical restraints that are not medically required to treat patient’s symptoms
•The right to a monthly itemized bill
•The right to 30 days’ notice of increase in facility rates

Transfer & Discharge Rights

Elders being discharged or transferred from one facility to another, or to return to a private residence are also granted rights under California and Federal laws. Nursing home residents transferring, or being discharged are granted the following rights:

•The right to voluntary discharge without notice
•The right to refuse involuntary transfer except in an emergency
•The right to receive a refund of security deposit within 14 days of account being closed
•The right to remain in the nursing home if insurance transfers from private pay to Medicare or Medi-Cal
•The right to remain in the nursing home if nursing home withdraws from Medicare or Medi-cal
•The right to have a bed held for 7 days if resident is transferred to a hospital

The State of California and the United States Federal Government guarantees these rights and more to all residents of Southern California nursing homes. If these rights are being in any way restricted, or violated, it is time to speak with an elder abuse attorney about your next course of action.
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Millions of elders will fracture, or break, a bone each year. Falls are the leading cause of broken bones in those over 65, and one out of three elders will fall each year. Unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries to seniors. In this post, we will focus on nonfatal injuries only.

In a best-case scenario, a fall will be nothing more than painful, but in many cases involving elders, a fall will cause a bone fracture. In fact, millions of elders suffer bone fractures each year. Hip fractures in particular are especially dangerous to those over 65. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010 there were 258,000 hospital admissions for hip fractures among people aged 65 and older.

As people grow older bones naturally become weaker, allowing fractures to occur from gentle movement and regular overuse. Yet, broken bones can also result from improper care, abuse and/or neglect within a Southern California nursing home.

It can be difficult to determine whether a broken bone in an elder was the result of normal activity or caused by abuse or neglect in a Southern California nursing home. That is why it is vitally important to determine the type of fracture. There are three types of fractures that elders may sustain. A stress fracture would occur naturally, as they are merely tiny cracks in bones that appear over time as the result of repetitive motion, movement, or overuse. Nursing home staff need to be aware of any stress fractures in elder residents to assure the fracture is treated properly and to prevent further injury.

Compression or spontaneous fractures can occur without trauma, and are typically caused by osteoporosis. Normal daily activities, such as walking, may cause a compression fracture in an elderly adult due to weakening bones. Common compression fractures appear in the hips and/or spine.

Traumatic fractures in elders are caused by an injury. In most cases, a traumatic fracture is the result of a fall. However, traumatic fractures may also indicate elder abuse. Neglect of a resident may be to blame for the elder falling; in cases where they were improperly medicated, and lost balance, for example. Abuse may indicate failure of the nursing home staff to properly investigate the cause of the injury, and/or failure to properly follow up with a medical visit after the fall.

It is vitally important for any nursing home resident who experiences a fall to have a thorough medical evaluation following the accident. The most common fractures that elders suffer as the result of a fall include breaks in the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, upper arm, hand, and pelvis.
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