Articles Posted in Signs of Elder Abuse

shutterstock_264466154-11-300x200The statistics about the frequency of nursing home abuse and neglect are far too common. It doesn’t even take in consideration, the numerous cases that go unreported every year. When it does happen to them, nursing home residents may be reluctant to speak out because they are afraid that reporting it will result in additional abuse. Sometimes victims of abuse carry shame and embarrassment and sometimes they suffer from dementia and other ailments which make it difficult to report the mistreatment. To help protect your relatives and loved ones, you can ask them questions that can get them talking and can result in exposing nursing home abuse.

 Questions about Daily Activities

 It’s important to ask about the residents’ daily activities and whether anyone is interfering with them. When this does occur, it can be considered willful deprivation and shows signs of neglect or a form of emotional abuse that attempts to exert control over individuals. Here are questions to ask:

shutterstock_1717046857-300x203Nursing home residents are confronted with numerous safety issues while living in the facility. Although some accidents seem almost inevitable because nursing homes house mostly older people, there are ways to be proactive. Nursing home staff should have safety measures in place to deal with obvious problems, so that they can mitigate injuries and lessen the impact. If you have a loved one who is a nursing home resident, you will want to recognize their vulnerability and how you can help them. Read on to learn about top three safety issues facing nursing home residents.

  1. Falls: This is one of the biggest concerns for nursing home residents. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because many individuals realize that falls are one of the main causes of fatalities for seniors. Ironically, getting help with moving around (to shower and bath, for instance) is one of the reasons that people move into nursing homes; they want to reduce the risk of falling. However, falls can still occur in nursing homes, due to negligent staff or poor design of the facility. Here are some things that you can check to see if the nursing home staff is doing their best to help prevent trips and falls:
  • Does the staff help the residents stay physically active, so they are less likely to fall?

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_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/132/2020/08/20.08.21-300x200.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_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.

In recent years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drawn attention to a source of increasing concern for nursing home residents: Candida auris, also known as C. auris, a fungus that causes “bloodstream infections and even death” in those it affects. Like many infections, C. auris infections are particularly dangerous for those who are already suffering from other conditions. Described by the CDC as “a serious global health threat,” C. auris poses a special risk for nursing home residents.

What makes C. auris so dangerous? A few things. The CDC notes that the fungus is frequently resistant to numerous antibiotic medications; that it is “difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods”; and that it is even prone to misidentification by laboratories without certain technology. This places elderly populations, especially those in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, at heightened risk. A New York Times report published in September 2019 described a June 2019 study that found “patients and residents in long-term care settings have alarmingly high rates of drug-resistant colonization, which means they carry the germs on their skin or in their bodies, usually without knowing it, and can pass them invisibly to staff members, relatives or other patients.” The study in question “focused on Southern California,” finding that 85% of nursing home residents “harbored a drug-resistant germ.” The CDC has also found that the infection proliferates in long-term healthcare centers

The Times reported that 800 cases of C. auris infection have been identified in the US since the fungus was first reported here in 2015. In August 2019, the CDC updated that count to 806. That includes 388 confirmed cases in New York; 227 confirmed cases in Illinois; 137 confirmed cases in New Jersey; 24 confirmed cases in Florida; and five confirmed cases in California. The Times attributes C. auris’ easy spread through nursing homes to a few factors, in addition to the prevalence of nursing home patients on multiple antibiotics to which the infection has already developed a resistance. Nursing homes are frequently understaffed and under-resourced, according to the Times, and struggle to “enforce rigorous infection control.” They often cycle infected persons in and out of hospitals, putting those hospitals’ patients at risk of the infection too. One health expert told the Times, “You’ll never protect hospital patients until the nursing homes are forced to clean up.” Basic hygienic measures, such as “using disposable gowns and latex gloves,” are essential to combating the infection, yet often unfollowed by long-term care centers, according to the Times. Experts also attribute the infection’s spread in the US to healthcare economics “that push high-risk patients out of hospitals and into skilled nursing homes.” Under the US’s healthcare system, these experts told the Times, “nursing home facilities are reimbursed at a higher rate to care for these patients… providing an economic incentive for poorly staffed or equipped facilities to care for vulnerable patients.”

A recent study has found that a class of drugs known as anticholinergics may increase the risk of dementia in patients aged 55 years and older. Commonly used in antidepressants, antihistamines, and antimuscarinics, the drugs have long been associated with side effects like confusion and memory issues. The new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests more powerful side effects than medical professionals have previously understood.

As a report by the New York Times explains, anticholinergics encompass a variety of medications. Examples include clozapine, an antipsychotic; diphenhydramine, an antihistamine used in Benadryl, among other products; paroxetine, an antidepressant; tizanidine, a muscle relaxant; and scopolamine, an anti-nausea medication. Anticholinergics owe their wide range of applications to their function in blocking acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in nervous system functions like muscle regulation, respiratory activity, digestion, and the opening and contraction of blood vessels. “Older adults are more likely to be prescribed many of these medications,” the Times explained, “simply because they tend to have more health issues.”

The JAMA Internal Medicine study examined 58,769 patients who had been diagnosed with dementia, with 225,574 matched control patients. Researchers examined dementia patients’ medical records, scrutinizing what medications doctor prescribed them between eleven years and one year before they were diagnosed with dementia. The study took into account 56 separate anticholinergic drugs, accounting for the dosage patients were prescribed and the length they were prescribed the drugs in question. What researchers ultimately discovered was a 50% increase in the risk of dementia in patients “who used a strong anticholinergic drug daily for about three years within that 10-year period,” according to the Times. This risk was strongest in patients who used anticholinergics to treat depression, psychosis, epilepsy, and bladder regulation issues. The study also found a stronger association between anticholinergics and dementia in patients who received their dementia diagnoses before they reached 80 years of age, and in patients with vascular dementia in comparison to those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Making the transition from an independent life to living in a nursing home is rarely easy for an elderly person.  Fear, anger, anxiety, and many more emotions can make the anticipation of this lifestyle change dangerous.  What are the risk factors and methods of mitigation that can be used to prevent a tragedy?

Transitioning from Home to Nursing Home

The time period between when the decision is made to move to a nursing home and the actual move-in date is critical.  In some cases, the prospect of this lifestyle change is enough to make an elderly person consider suicide as an option.  Some of the reasons for this include:

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