Articles Posted in Abuse

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Sometimes you have to see elder abuse with your own eyes before appreciating the many ways that seniors are mistreated in our community each and every day. Sadly, there are virtually no limits to the manner in which others exploit vulnerable elders (often their own relatives) for their own personal gain. Living out one’s golden years in comfort should not be a privilege only for a certain few. However, for far too many, their last years are filled with pain, sadness, and neglect.

Some seniors are even forced to spend their time working bizarrely for other’s gain. For example, a community was shocked recently when a video made its way onto YouTube suggesting that a man was forcing his elderly mother to panhandle at a mall for hours on end day after day.

Elder Abuse Video Spreads

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One of Chicago’s dubious distinctions–especially in recent years–is the high prevalence of murders in the city. We frequently top the list for homicides each year, and, sadly, many of those crimes go unsolved. This statistic has made headlines in recent months in the context of gun violence. Many victims are killed with handguns, often as a result of gang activity.

But it is a mistake to assume all of these crimes are related to young men involved in gang activity. In fact, a Chicago Tribune story earlier this month reminds us that some victims are on the exact opposite end of the spectrum–seniors or adults with disabilities who are killed, often as a result of abuse.

Unidentified Victim

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Our attorneys are proud to work with residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois after poor nursing home care leads to injury. In most cases the process is initiated by the family of the resident. Sadly, families often only learn of problematic care after an incident which causes harm–a nursing home fall, the development of pressure sores, an attack by another resident, or similar accident. When that happens the legal system usually allows the family to recover compensation for the harm irrespective of possible state and federal sanctions for any care violations.

When helping families with these matters, the final resolution in our cases is often a settlement. These are agreements between the parties to resolve the matter without the need to have the issue decided by a judge or jury. Settlements are an efficient way to resolve disputes, ensure fairness, and provide incentive to ensure proper care 100% of the time.

New Illinois Nursing Home Settlement

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The new Russell Sage e-book on long-term care (viewed here), includes a chapter on the payment systems for these crucial services. It is impossible to separate programs to tackle the elimination of neglect and abuse without taking finances into account. Who pays for this care, how they pay for it, and how the funds are used is at the center of all discussions about quality of care.

In general, long-term care services–including stays in a nursing home or via at-home support–are paid for by insurance. Some individuals have private long-term care insurance while others (a majority) rely on public insurance programs (Medicaid) to pay for the care. It is undeniable that public coffers are stretched to the bone. No one is quite sure how the Medicaid system will be able to continue paying for the current level of services indefinitely, especially considering the growing number of seniors who will likely need long-term care paid for via Medicaid in the future. However, there has yet to be a strong push for increased use of private insurance to ease the burden on the public. Some hope this changes.

Private Long-Term Care Insurance

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Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys know first hand the devastating effects that result from nursing home abuse and neglect. It seems as though almost daily new reports are published or lawsuits filed on behalf of those who sustain serious injuries, sometimes even death, as a result of negligent or careless caregivers. There are many tell-tale signs of the various symptoms those who are being neglected show. These signs and symptoms include, but are not limited, to the following: malnutrition, dehydration, frequent falls, pressure sores, unexplained injuries, behavior change, overmedication, as well as the inability of the caretaker to explain the resident’s condition.

The signs of malnutrition and dehydration go hand in hand. Malnutrition results from an inadequate or unbalanced diet, while dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluids than he or she takes in. Both symptoms can result from improper nursing home care and eventually lead to more severe injuries within the body. According to SeniorHealthCare.org, malnutrition and/or dehydration commonly leads to nursing home resident’s rapid weight loss. While in many instances elderly weight loss is unavoidable, improper nourishment (whether it be food or water) is one of the most common signs of nursing home abuse.

Another unfortunately frequent symptom of nursing home abuse and neglect is pressure sores. AgedCareCrisis.com describes pressure sores (commonly referred to as “bedsores”) as an area of skin or tissue that has been injured or broken down. This occurs when a resident sits or lies in a certain position for too long without shifting weight – this pressure results in a decreased blood supply to the area. The act of negligence falls onto the nursing home when they fail to consistently reposition, as well as, clean the residents. Due to inadequate nursing home staffing and training, the frequency of pressure sores in on the rise with many being left untreated. Failure to treat pressure sores subsequently results in infection and in some cases even death.

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The examples of nursing home abuse and negligence that typically attract the most attention are dramatic stories of poor care that shock the senses. From negligently trapping residents inside cafeteria freezers to allowing ghastly sexual assaults, these major incidents deservedly send ripples of outrage throughout the community.

Yet there also exists more persistent negligence that does not culminate in a single incident but also has debilitating effects on a nursing home resident’s quality of life. A common example of that form of abuse is chemical restraints-the daily dose of drugs given to residents that put them in a perpetual stupor. It makes it easier for nursing home staff to monitor the resident but drastically limits the individual’s ability to enjoy their life.

The Star Tribune reported on recent attempts to end the overuse of drugs to control residents. The story explains how many residents are constantly lethargic with little interest in interacting with their surroundings. One nurse explained, “You see that in just about any nursing home. But that kind of quality of life is that?”

To help fight the problem the nurse began a program that is replacing drugs with alternatives, including aromatherapy, massages, exercise, and other activities involving giving personal attention to the resident. The results have been impressive. Antipsychotic drugs have been completed eliminated from rotations and antidepressants are now used only half as much as the facility.

Not only is the program working to improve the lives of residents, it is also eliminating the risk posed by overuse of drugs. Many drugs are used “off label” or for reasons other than their intended use. Instead of treating symptoms, the drugs are used to cover up other symptoms. It is a dangerous cycle that claims far too many lives.
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Many posts to this nursing home blog involve reporting on the latest news of abuse and neglect at Chicago nursing homes as well as other facilities across the country. Our hope is that by sharing the stories of heartbreak, more individuals will pay closer attention to possible abuse at facilities near them. In the end, the goal is to have less seniors fall victim to lackluster care, neglect, and intentional abuse.

The same sentiments were shared in a recent letter to the editor published in the Lancaster EagleGazette. In it the writer explains her disappointment in treatment received by a loved one at a facility that she thought would provide the utmost care. Her grandmother entered the facility to rehab after two weeks in the hospital. At the time of the admission the woman was able to provide a lot of basic care for herself-fed herself, walked on her own, and spoke clearly. But day in and day out the care provided by nursing home staff sapped her will to fight her ailments.

The writer shares the victim’s own words about her care: “When I put on my call light, no one ever comes, and I have to use the bathroom in my pants. […] They throw me around like a rag doll.”

Eventually the woman’s buttocks began breaking down with bedsores and she had bruises all over her body. She left the nursing home and passed away at a skilled care facility within a month.
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This blog frequently includes the latest examples of blatant, deadly nursing home abuse. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti work each day on that battlefront fighting for the rights of residents and their families and trying to ensure that these facilities take steps to change their ways. When facing large business conglomerates it is important to have expert, experienced legal veterans on your side helping to hold these companies accountable.

However, another hidden problem of elder abuse often involves seniors who are victimized in other locations, often by their own relatives who are entrusted with their care. A recent, horrific example was reported at the end of last week by the Daily Comet. A woman was arrested on Thursday and charged with cruelty to the infirmed for her treatment of a live-in relative.

When called to the home, authorities found the 69-year old woman living in a small wooden shed that was attached to the home. This single wooden room reported was “in disarray, filthy and smelled of urine and rotting flesh.” The woman was found on a sheet-less vinyl mattress in her own urine with other bodily fluids crusted on the bed. At a local hospital, she was found to have sores exposing bone and tendons, a broken hip, and a broken femur.

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It seems that all too often we hear of tragic incidents occurring at Nursing Homes. Today, the Chicago Tribune published an article regarding Alden Village North noting that over the past ten years, Alden has been cited thirteen times for violations in connection to the deaths of its patients.

It is unreasonable to believe that any facility can be perfect in their care, but the types of nursing home neglect that Alden has shown is, in our opinion, inexcusable. The law firm of Levin & Perconti has handled a significant number of cases against Alden for their negligent treatment and care of patients. When negligence occurs, it is important for a facility to investigate the source and correct any problems to mitigate these types of incidents. Alden has been neglecting this part of their duty.

A one-year-old Alden Village North resident who suffered from severe Down syndrome was found in his room “unresponsive and blue” about forty-five minutes after having been fed. There was no one in the room when the child died, and as such Alden was responsible to investigate the cause of the child’s death. In a state investigation, it was found that there was no evidence that the facility reviewed whether proper supervision was provided. The facility was also cited for being understaffed and for not reporting his death to the state health department.

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The nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have handled all types of abuse and neglect lawsuits against Alden nursing homes throughout Illinois for many years. Today’s Chicago Tribune tells the story of at least thirteen children in the Chicago area who fell victim to abuse and neglect at Alden Village North, a nursing home located at 7464 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

The Tribune’s article exposes the sad truth that abuse and neglect not only happens to the elderly living in Illinois nursing homes, but also to younger residents who require ongoing medical treatment that they cannot receive at home. Parents and family members place their trust with nursing home staff to care for their loved ones, but unfortunately neglect and abuse occur, often due to negligent hiring and short-staffing. One of the victims in the Tribune article was just two years old when he died of asphyxiation because staff at the facility failed to properly monitor his tracheotomy tube for over 3.5 hours. The child had a habit of playing with the tube but staff did nothing to prevent this behavior and did not notify his physician of his actions.

In another sad case, a nine-year-old boy who suffered from severe cognitive deficits died due to nursing home neglect. Staff failed to properly care for his g-tube, failed to notice a change in his condition and failed to communicate these changes to his doctor. As a result, he died from bowel obstruction and an infection at a local hospital.
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