Caring for our Loved Ones – Watching Out for Nursing Home Abuse
Nearly everyone I talk to can share a story about caring for an older loved one and the challenges that brings. Whether dealing with someone who has dementia or someone whose health is fragile brings a host of issues that can tax any family.
In many instances, the care for our elders requires more care than we can handle, and those loved ones are moved to a nursing home or similar facility, where trained staff and 24-hour care provide a safer environment.
According to the US Census, just over 5% of the population age 65+ resides in a nursing home or similar facility, with an average life expectancy of six months after entering a facility. Approximately 110,000 Californians live in about 1,300 licensed nursing homes and about 150,000 live in about 7,500 licensed residential care facilities for the elderly. Another 150,000 or more Californians are estimated to live in unlicensed assisted living facilities that may or may not be able to care for them properly.
While Bakersfield and Kern County are blessed with several top-notch nursing homes and residential care homes, the potential also exists in our community that care will be less than adequate at such facilities. While we do not like to think about the potential for elder abuse in nursing homes, the reality is that it does happen and there are things you can do to protect yourself and ensure that the abuse stops and that you are compensated if abuse does in fact occur.
In California, the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse under the California State Department of Justice, works to investigate and prosecute those who are fraudulent and negligent in caring for the elderly.
Some of the common forms of fraud and abuse on the elderly include:
- Medical doctors ordering unnecessary lab tests, and allowing untrained, uncertified assistants to provide medical treatment to patients;
- Dentists performing unnecessary teeth extractions
- Medical supply companies billing for equipment and products that were neither ordered nor delivered
- Nursing homes allowing their patients to suffer from bedsores, malnutrition and dehydration
- Nurse assistants physically abusing elderly and dependent adult patients who are entrusted to their care
Please call my office if someone you care for has been injured or abused at a nursing home or similar facility. It is important that we review your case and determine liability and proper compensation. Typically, such abuse requires medical attention that should be covered by the negligent parties.
It is also important to recognize some of the signs of nursing home abuse. Those include:
- Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Emotionally upset, non-communicative – someone acting out of character
- Reluctant to speak in front of staff
- Unsanitary / unclean conditions
- Repeated falls, head injuries
- Unexplained injuries that are not reported to the physician / family
- Heavy medication or sedation
Be vigilant in watching for signs of abuse or neglect. Get to know the staff and ask questions about your loved one’s care.
Should you suspect abuse or neglect at a nursing home of care facility, contact my office to talk through the implications and possible compensation. Our elders deserve the love and protection of a safe, caring environment in which to spend their remaining years.
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