Articles Posted in Elder Caregivers

choosing a nursing home

Family Members Should Be Attending Resident Council Meetings with These 10 Questions

Nursing home administrators should allow for regular resident council or family council meetings. If they do not, it may be a sign that those residing in the facility may not be receiving the attention needed and care standards are not being met, triggering a higher risk of abuse and neglect. It’s the suggestion of the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti to request information about the dates and times of resident council or family council meetings and plan to attend. These councils are usually organized and managed by the residents or other residents’ families to address concerns and improve the quality of care and life for all residents.

If you’re able to attend a meeting with your loved one or on behalf of them, ask a council member whether it be another resident, care staff or administrator the following 10 questions and take notes:

A joint study by researchers from The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, John H. Stroger Hospital, The Social Policy Research Institute and Illinois Citizens for Better Care has found that the type of facility matters when it comes to the quality of care your elderly loved one is receiving.

Chicago Hospital Records Show Elder Neglect Happening in Nursing Homes

The study ‘Association between Type of Residence and Clinical Signs of Neglect in Older Adults,’ examined 5 metropolitan Chicago-area hospital records of 1,149 elderly patients admitted from long term care settings (nursing homes) and community settings (home, assisted living, or senior living facilities). The data revealed that for-profit nursing homes had more instances of clinical neglect than any other setting. The facilities responsible for the transfer of these residents to nursing homes were all metropolitan Chicago nursing homes.

We’d like to share some upcoming Alzheimer’s Association events and activities that are specifically intended for caregivers of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

All conferences and events listed below are located in the Chicago-area or other Illinois city and are hosted by the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

  1.  The Savvy Caregiver: A 2 hour per week, 6 week FREE course designed to give confidence and knowledge to those taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or age-related dementia. Upcoming courses take place in Rockford, Bloomington, Joliet, Eureka, Crystal Lake, and Peoria. For more information or to register, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Illinois Chapter website here. 

New York Times’ Your Money columnist Ron Lieber recently gave his review of 4 books that he says his readers recommended in the wake of news that Medicaid might be drastically reduced.

The books, “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, “The 36 Hour Day” by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, “A Bittersweet Season” by Jane Gross, and “Being My Mom’s Mom” by Loretta Anne Woodward Veney all give honest accounts of the heartache, exhaustion, gut-wrenching emotional and financial decisions, and feelings of inadequacy that come with caring for a loved one in their final years.

Click here to read Ron Lieber’s reviews.

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.

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.

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

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

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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