As More Seniors Live Longer, Appropriate Nursing Care is Critical
Nursing home abuse is among the most devastating indignities taking place in the elder community, impacting our older, vulnerable loved ones. Sadly, news of nursing home abuse routinely makes headlines, yet the appalling practice continues.
The mistreatment, abuse, and negligence of the elderly involves intentional actions that lead to serious risk of harm, whether intentional or not, to a senior by either a caregiver or a person in a position of trust. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes elder abuse as “a violation of human rights and a significant cause of illness, injury, loss of productivity, isolation, and despair.” This is serious issue because our senior population is expanding and living longer, which leads to more and more family caretakers finding themselves in the difficult position of placing older relatives and loved ones in the care of nursing home facilities. Sadly, family and loved ones who seek ethical, appropriate care for their senior relatives are often left with very limited options; their loved ones often suffer devastating indignities that include a broad array of abuse and neglect and patients often suffer, not just physical pain, but emotional pain and humiliation, and in some cases, death, over inadequate care, neglect, and various types of abuse.
Because seniors represent the fastest growing United States demographic, it is expected that the effect of this segment of the U.S. population will continue for decades, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). Demands on the health care industry are expected to increase with this growing population, as well.
Nursing homes should provide safe, compassionate, ethical, clean, and healthy treatment and living spaces for the elderly. Abuse does occur and, when our elder loved ones are injured in any way, those responsible must be held responsible for their actions.
Parker Waichman LLP believes that everyone should be treated with dignity, especially those who are unable to protect themselves. Parker Waichman has long fought and has long been committed to ensuring appropriate, compassionate care for our clients and our clients loved ones who are nursing home facility residents, as well as ensuring justice and ethical financial compensation, when appropriate care has not been given. If you are concerned that a loved one has been, or is being victimized, at a nursing home facility, you may have valuable legal rights that will enable you to receive justice and hold the nursing home and its staff accountable. Our lawyers have long fought against negligent and abusive nursing home staff and facilities.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
When families place a loved one in a nursing home, the hope is that their loved one will receive the best care possible. There are some important steps that family may take to ensure nursing home residents receive appropriate care. For example, family and caretakers should:
- Ensure their loved ones are placed in a facility near where the family lives and works. Residents who receive more frequent visitors are likelier to receive better care.
- Review the nursing home and make scheduled and unscheduled visits.
- Speak with residents and staff about the nursing home and the care received.
- Speak with the facility’s representative to understand how, and ensure that, a loved one’s unique needs will be met.
- Understand the resident-to-staff ratio to ensure loved ones will not be ignored or neglected due under staffing.
No matter how hard a family tries, and despite all best efforts, we are often unaware when our loved ones are subjected to abject circumstances and abusive treatment in poorly run facilities that place profits over care and that are staffed with unqualified, undertrained, neglectful, or abusive employees. The facilities that permit these actions likely underreport abuse.
There are many ways in which the elderly may be mistreated and abused. If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated, speak to one of our Nursing Home attorneys today. Neglect. physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, yelling, threats, humiliation, isolation, mocking, and terrorizing should be suspected when the resident has bed sores; open wounds; unexpected, unexplained injuries, including bruises, cuts, and broken bones; clothing that is torn, dirty, or bloody; signs of dehydration and malnourishment; signs of improper medication administration or of not receiving medication; dirty bed sheets and living conditions; infections and chronic infections; emotional withdrawal; bleeding near or in the genital or anal areas; venereal disease; blood on undergarments, clothing, and sheets; bruises seen in the breast, genital, and/or anal areas; and unexplained death.
The American Psychological Association has estimated that some 2.1 million older Americans become victims of abuse. According to NCEA, abuse crosses all socioeconomic, racial, religious, and cultural groups. Many sources believe that, for every case of nursing home abuse that is reported, at least five cases go unreported. Research also indicates that abused seniors are likelier to die earlier than elders who receive appropriate care, regardless of any life-threatening illness.
According to Alzheimer’s Association reports, approximately 5.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; by 2025, that figure is expected to reach 7.1 million. There are concerns that, with an increase in patients who are very vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, these patients may be the focus of neglect and abuse in poorly run, abusive facilities.
Following mounting reports of broad abuse and neglect in nursing homes, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation in 1987 that mandated every nursing home that participates in Medicare and Medicaid to remain in compliance with federally mandated standards of care that were detailed in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987, also known as the federal Nursing Home Reform Act. Under the Act, nursing homes “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.” To participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, nursing homes must be in compliance with federal requirements for long-term care facilities. State nursing homes receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds must also comply with federal nursing home regulations; however, some states may have enacted more stringent regulations, which must also be followed.
Filing A Nursing Home Lawsuit
The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have long fought against nursing home abuse and have a deep and broad understanding of the industry and the laws with which nursing homes are governed. Our attorneys are able to quickly locate responsible parties, including the owners of poorly run nursing homes. We are also able to aggressively seek justice for nursing home residents and their loved ones. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or neglect in a nursing home, please contact our office for a free case evaluation by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).