Articles Posted in Elder Caregivers

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The Times Argus reported this week on a new lawsuit filed by the son of a former nursing home resident. The suit makes claims of negligence against the long-term care facility which resulted in the death of the 84-year old woman. The report provides few details of the incident, but it does indicate that some of the most common problems with dementia care might have present in the case.

According to the story, the elderly woman suffered from dementia and was known to wander. The suit claims that at some point in 2010, the resident entered the room of another resident–a 58-year old man. When she entered, the other resident apparently told her to “get out” before the man somehow knocked the woman to the ground. As often happens when a vulnerable nursing home resident suffers a fall, serious injuries were involved. The senior resident was struggling fight the injuries, but she ultimately passed away two days after the accident.

The senior resident’s son eventually sought out a legal professional to learn about his rights. He likely made the decision to help his mother enter the facility specifically because he knew of her wandering risk and other vulnerabilities. It is unacceptable, therefore, for the home to allow these sorts of preventable accidents to cause harm–or even death.

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Virtually all those who work closely on elder care issues agree that “front line” care workers are the most important individuals affecting the quality of care that residents receive in long-term care facilities. These are the dedicated employees who work day in and day out directly with seniors. They do the actual work–helping to groom, dress, feed, and transport seniors. They also provide the activities, social interaction, and basic medical care that the residents need. Lawyers, advocates, and others universally agree that a large, trained, dedicated cadre of direct line care workers is one of the best ways to ensure seniors receive the care they are entitled at these facilities.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, it often is not the case. And it is usually not because the care workers are not dedicated, hard-working individuals. Instead, the problems are usually rooted in nursing home owners and operators trying to maximize profits by cutting staffing levels, compensation, and resources to those care workers. In many ways, when large-scale disputes at these facilities arise, the residents and direct-line care workers are on the same side–fighting for a better balance between resources committed to ensuring quality care and profits for the facility.

This antagonistic relationship between front line nursing home care workers and management sometimes boils into employment law litigation. This is particularly true when care workers stick up for residents and are punished as a result.

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Nursing home care is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. While all those at these facilities need some form of skilled nursing care, there are individualized needs for each resident that must be taken into account. Of course, that is why each resident must be evaluated individually to identify certain risks. How likely is this resident to suffer an injury during a fall? Is wandering a risk? How many risks are present with prolonged elopement? Do they have cognitive challenges that must be taken into account? These and other issues are a standard part of proper nursing home care.

That individual analysis obviously would factor in whether or not a resident is suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The lawyers at our firm work on many cases where residents with dementia were not handled properly, leading to serious accidents, attacks, and neglect. Complex injury and even death have resulted from these mistakes.

Challenges of Dementia Care

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One of the biggest differences between a risk facing a senior and one facing a healthy younger adult relate to falls. The fact is that many seniors have vulnerable bodies which mean even a short fall can wreak serious damage for an elderly person that would be nothing more than a temporary blip for a younger person. Obviously understanding these risks is crucial to providing proper long-term care–front line workers must act efficiently to limit even the most limited tumbles.

My Elder Care advocate recently published an extensive story of these incidents which provides a helpful summary of the issue.

The Scope of the Nursing Home Fall Problem

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Many of our reports on this blog involve abuse and neglect of elderly residents at nursing homes. However, the sad reality is that senior citizens are abused in all different living situations, including when they are cared for by their own family members. Sometimes elder parents are even neglected by their own children.

The Times Daily wrote about one of those cases of family abuse last week. A 56-year old man was arrested and indicted for purposeful elder abuse and harassment. The victim was his 87-year old mother with whom the accused lived. Police were made aware of the problems after receiving several different complaints about the treatment the elderly woman was receiving.

Fortunately no physical abuse was involved, but investigators reported that the man controlled all aspects of his mother’s life-to her detriment. As expected, the controlling son has not been cooperative with the police and the victimized mother has attempted to defend her son. The complex mix of emotions involved in these inter-family abuse cases makes them particularly difficult

The local police chief explained, “He was controlling her world and keeping her isolated from everyone.”

Most egregiously, the abuser was preventing his mother from receiving the medical treatment that she needed.
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The Toledo Blade reports on the creation of a citizen run group known as the Coalition of Organizations Protecting Elders (COPE), a welcome development in the quest to provide proper care for the elderly.

The group was founded by Sandra Hamilton after she witnessed repeated examples of elder abuse and recognized the need for increased vigilance to stem the problem and hold the abusers accountable. The organization works with its citizen-members to provide training and information so that members are able to recognize elder abuse and neglect and take appropriate action to stop the mistreatment.

COPE reports that only between 15-20% of elder abuse cases are ever reported. That means that for every one elderly resident saved from abuse, five more continue to suffer. Often the abuse goes unreported because the average individual does not fully understand the various forms that the neglect occurs.

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An Illinois county has enacted a new team to review cases of alleged or suspected elderly abuse, neglect or exploitation. This team was organized by the county’s coroner in coordination with the Illinois Department of Aging. They are looking to have several people investigate cases of elderly abuse. Also the team hopes to gather information that will enable them to discover gaps in the nursing home system and the services provided to the elderly. The team leader believes that the elderly are a group that is very vulnerable to nursing home abuse. This type of team should be present in every county throughout the state in order to combat Illinois elderly abuse. To read more about the elderly abuse team, please click the link.

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As the wife of Baby Boomers hits 65, the need for elder abuse awareness is hitting an all time high. Elderly people become vulnerable to financial abuse by relatives, caretakers and a range of helpers. Experts in preventing financial exploitation suggest the following safeguards:
 Never advertise for a caretaker, handyman or driver. You should find them through senior centers or other trusted sources  Get references and hire companies to do a background check  Make a plan as you age to find someone you trust with your finances  Consider a professional conservator who has a financial plan that is registered with a judge  Be careful with newfound friends  Beware of salespeople who are trying to scare you into buying something at extravagant prices.
Follow these steps to avoid becoming a victim of elderly abuse. If you or a loved one has experienced financial exploitation, consult an Illinois lawyer. To read more about the financial exploitation, please click the link.

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The daughter and grandson of a 91-year-old woman have been arrested on elderly neglect charges as a result of the woman’s death. The police arrested the two after suspecting that the elderly woman had been dead for some time before the authorities were notified. The suspicious conditions surrounding the woman’s death led to an autopsy. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was “inanition and dehydration due to elder neglect.” This means that the woman’s death was caused by lack of food and water. The coroner even went as far as ruling the victim’s death a homicide. The two were charged in Will County, Illinois with two counts of criminal neglect of an elderly person and financial exploitation of an elderly person. Investigations had reveled that the two had taken money from the woman’s accounts. Unfortunately, elderly abuse oftentimes comes at the hands of a family member. To read more about the Illinois elder neglect, please click the link.

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“Break the Silence” has become a phrase used to raise awareness to raise awareness for the reporting of elder abuse. People should report to the local authorities if they are suspicious of any elder abuse. Many times callers can remain anonymous as investigations are conducted. Oftentimes when a person becomes older and increasingly frail and isolated they oftentimes become a victim of elder abuse. There are several types of elder abuse. The types range from physical and sexual to emotional abuse. Additionally, financial exploitation has become quite common in places like Chicago, Illinois. If you believe you or a family member is a victim of elder abuse, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. To read more about types of elder abuse, please click the link.