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senior_financial_troubles-300x200Identity theft continues to arise as a harsh reality for millions of Americans each year. In fact, according to the Justice Department, more than 11 million Americans fall victim to some form of identity theft/fraud each year. That accounts for more than $20 billion in lost money, with the average injury to victims at more than $4,000.

Elders may be at an increased risk of becoming victims of identity theft because 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.”

Unfortunately for elders, particularly those in nursing homes, this does ring true. Personal and sensitive information may be attained by those with bad intentions. Therefore, it is important that elders and their loved ones keep a close eye on personal information, including social security numbers, driver’s licenses and credit cards. These identifying numbers and accounts can be accessed easily, and drain an elder of savings in some cases. In others debt in an elder’s name may be accrued.

elder-abuse-crop-600x338-300x169Unfortunately, there are far too many opportunists in the world, and the one thing they all share in common is that they are looking for the simplest way to get what they want. As a result, many con-artists specifically target the elderly, knowing that they are often some of the most vulnerable members of society. One way that elders are subjected to financial abuse is through fraudulent phone sales.

It has been estimated that Americans are bilked out of tens of billions of dollars each year via phony phone scams. Of those who lose money due to fake sales over the phone, more than half are over the age of 50, according to AARP. In order to ensure that you, or a loved elder does not fall prey to phone scams, keep the following in mind:

*Do NOT give anyone your credit card information or other sensitive information (social security number, date of birth, or bank account numbers) over the phone.

In its simplest form, financial elder abuse involves taking money or property from an elderly person with the intent to defraud them. It is a growing problem in California given the state’s increasing senior population. The signs of financial elder abuse can be difficult to see. Though the presence of any of the following signs associated with financial elder abuse is not absolute evidence of abuse, it should prompt further investigation:

• Elder is withdrawn.

• Elder is confused and tends to be more forgetful than usual.

Under California law, elder abuse is both a criminal and civil offense. 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. Diminished capacity due to the elder’s advanced age, physical confinement, and medical condition make it difficult for victims to speak out about their abuse. Even when they do, perpetrators may blame the complaints on the elder’s senility, confusion, or dementia. Many victims have no family or friends left to care for them. They rely entirely upon the staff and caregivers at their nursing home or facility. That is why it is important for anyone who witnesses elder abuse to recognize the symptoms and report the abuse.

elder-abuse-photo-300x297Signs of physical abuse include unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration. While lack of appetite is a common complaint amongst the elderly, caretakers are required by law to provide the food and service necessary to the patient’s health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, poor nutrition often leads to easy bruising, another sign of physical abuse. Look for bruises and skin damage in the shape of fingerprints or clustered marks from repeated striking or beating. Also notice any new scratches, cuts, welts, or fractures. Marks indicating pinching, choking, or gagging evidence acute instances of abuse, while increased bedsores show neglect, as when the patient is not turned over enough in bed.

While not as visible, suspicious behavior may also indicate abuse. Watch for undue agitation, anger, or defensiveness. These may be signs of mental suffering. Patients may also become non-responsive, hesitant, and anxious when asked to explain their abuse. They may feel increasingly isolated as they lose contact with family and friends. Always look for signs of fear, withdrawal, depression, and helplessness in determining whether there has been abuse. Remember that any social isolation, absence of assistance, or indifference toward the needs of the elderly may constitute abuse. Even if you are not related to the victim, report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

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.

When interviewing a potential caregiver for your loved one, be sure to:

*Photocopy a Valid California Driver’s License
*Obtain Proof of Certifications
*Check References
*Run A Background Check
*Spend Time Getting to Know Them

After you’ve hired an in-home caregiver, make sure to stay in contact with your loved elder. In addition, be sure to schedule consultations with the caregiver at least once per week to remain current on your loved one’s wellbeing. Wherever possible make unannounced visits while their caregiver is there to make sure that the relationship between the two is one of mutual respect and care.

The decision to hire an in-home caregiver for your loved elder is a big decision and warrants time and careful screening of candidates to ensure you’ve selected the best person for the job.
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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:

Memory problems
Confusion
Withdrawing from friends, family
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Complaints of pain
Insomnia
Irritability
Delusions
Hallucinations
Ongoing sadness
Excessive worrying
Pacing/Fidgeting
Frequent crying

Depression is a serious mental condition and must be treated. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, untreated depression in elders may lead to a worsening of symptoms of other illnesses, premature death, disability, or even result in suicide.
If you believe an elder you love is showing signs of depression, speak with their physician.

You may also find helpful information here:
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation: www.GMHFonline.org
National Mental Health Association: www.NMHA.org
American Geriatrics Society: www.americangeriatrics.org
National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov Continue reading

If you believe that an elder has been the victim of any form of elder abuse, including neglect, while in the care of a California nursing home, your first responsibility is to report your suspicions. It is also advisable that you also speak with an experienced California nursing home abuse attorney. At Walton Law, APC, we offer free consultations, where we will discuss your claim with you, answer all of your questions, and prepare preliminary action to take, to determine whether or not filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.

If we decide to pursue a claim on your behalf, rest assured, there is no out of pocket expense to you. We work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that Walton Law, APC defers fees and payments until we have successfully resolved your case. This contingency basis enables those who would otherwise shy away from pursuing a valid claim (for fear that it will be too expensive to receive justice). There is simply no out of pocket expense, no monthly fee, nor hidden charges to Walton Law, APC clients until we have reached a resolution for you.

Contingency fees and costs are based on a percentage of the verdict or settlement received when all is said and done. That means that if we do not win your case, we do not collect money from you. At Walton Law, APC, we are honored to provide our services to you on a contingency fee, so that you are not priced out of the legal system.

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. It is unfortunate that these laws alone are not always enough to protect our elders while they are in a long term care facility such as a California nursing home.

Elder abuse in California can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and a form of abuse known as chemical restraint (over-drugging). These forms of abuse may result in pain, suffering, and even death of elders. That’s why it is so important to talk with a nursing home abuse attorney if you believe that an elder is being abused or neglected while in a California nursing home.

Nursing home abuse cases in California may be very complex. However, this should not deter you from speaking with a California elder abuse attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. All consultations at Walton Law, APC are free of charge. During that time, we will sit down with you and discuss your concerns, your suspicions, and your fears in regards to filing a lawsuit against a California nursing home. We will answer any and all of your questions in regards to nursing home abuse in California.

Walton Law APC is pleased to announce that Christopher C. Walton, founder and principal of the firm has been selected to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list. This is an exclusive list recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in the state.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a research driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and all firm sizes, assuring a credible and relevant annual list.

The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes:

Falls in nursing homes are all too common, and consequently all too fatal. In fact according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, “Falls among nursing home residents occur frequently and repeatedly. About 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries and those who survive falls frequently sustain hip fractures and head injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life.”

In order to prevent falls, it’s beneficial for elders in long term nursing care facilities to understand the causes. Here is a list of the four most common causes of falls.

• Nearly ¼ of all falls in nursing homes are caused by muscle weakness, or walking difficulties. If you or someone you love is having difficulty walking, use an assistive device, and make sure to request proper assistance from the skilled nursing staff of your long term care facility.