Elder abuse on the rise: what steps can you take to protect your loved ones?

A new report released by the World Health Organization is raising alarms about the increasing number of elderly people suffering abuse and neglect. The research reveals that one out of six people around the world will fall victim to some form of abuse after they turn 60.

According to the CDC, for each reported case of elder abuse more than 20 other cases remain in the dark Continue reading “Elder abuse on the rise: what steps can you take to protect your loved ones?”

5 tips from an Ohio nursing home neglect lawyer for choosing a good nursing home for a family member

By Craig McLaughlin

In 2010, the United States Census Bureau recorded the greatest number of people age 65 and older in census history.  The number was 40.3 million people, or 13% of the population, and that number is only going to go up into the future.  As people live longer, many Ohioans are going to need medical care and assistance that can only be found at a nursing home.  There are almost 1,000 nursing homes in Ohio. So how can you find out what is a good nursing home vs. a bad one? Here are 5 quick tips to help you select a nursing home for your family member.

1. Check out the nursing home on the Ohio Department of Health and Medicare websites

choosing the right nursing home
Photo: Ulrich Joho/CC BY 2.0

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is responsible for monitoring and regulating nursing homes in Ohio.  These facilities are subject to regular inspections by investigators from the ODH.  The ODH puts out the Long-Term Care Consumer Guide which contains inspection reports, facility details, family satisfaction survey scores, and resident satisfaction survey scores.

Many Ohio nursing home residents pay for their care by using Medicare and Medicaid.  In order for a nursing home to receive payment from the government, it must comply with minimum standards that are established.  The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services monitors and compares these facilities to see which ones are doing a good job. Their website, Nursing Home Compare, contains quality of care information on more than 15,000 nursing homes.

2. Visit the nursing home to see how the staff interacts with each other

I recommend that you actually go and visit the nursing home and spend an hour or two in the waiting area or other common areas of the facility and just observe what happens in a typical day.  Pay attention to how the nurses, therapists, and aides interact with each other.  Chances are if they are being rude to each other, then they are going to be rude to your family member, especially when you’re not there.  Also, watch to see if they are taking the time to talk to the residents or are too busy gossiping with each other and are ignoring the residents.

3. Ask questions of the nurses and nurse’s aides

In the past, many of the owners of Ohio nursing homes lived in the same community and knew many of the residents before they even started living at the nursing home.  They treated the residents like family.  This has changed as more and more nursing homes are bought up by large national corporations who are more concerned with cutting costs in order to improve their stock price.  With Medicare reimbursement and Medicaid reimbursement rates remaining flat and expenses going up, this often results in staffing of the nursing homes being kept to the bare legal minimum. This means nurses and aides are often overworked and underpaid.

I encourage you to ask actual nurses and nurse’s aides at the nursing home how long they have been at that particular facility.  If the nurses and aides have been there a long time, then that is a good sign the employees are being compensated fairly, are not being stretched too thin, and will likely provide better care to your family member.  Also, ask them if they work a lot of overtime or double shifts. If the answer is yes, then that can be a bad sign that patient care is going to be negatively affected by short staffing.  Please remember you need to get past the marketing person who is giving you a fancy brochure and a tour of the facility and ask questions of the actual care providers.

4. Give the nursing home the smell test

It’s a sad fact aging can lead to the loss of bowel and bladder control.  A person’s medication can also cause gas.  These things can lead to some unpleasant, but not unexpected smells, at a nursing home.  However, if the facility smells like stale urine, then that can be a sign the nursing home is not being cleaned routinely or correctly.

5. Give the nursing home the taste test

Ask the nursing home if you can eat a meal in the dining area. Where the residents eat, how the food looks, and how it tastes is also a good indicator of the quality of care your family member will receive at the nursing home. If a lot of the residents eat their meals in their rooms instead of the dining area, then that can be a sign that they are not receiving a lot of attention from the staff.  Is the food visually appealing? Is it edible? Food is often very important not only for good physical health, but also can improve the spirits of your family member.

With the baby boomer generation getting older and people living longer, it should be no surprise that new nursing homes are being built in Ohio.  But how do you know if these new facilities or existing nursing homes are any good? If you are faced with the difficult decision of putting your loved one into a nursing home or some type of assisted living facility, then I encourage you to follow these five tips in order to select a safe place for your family member.

 

Craig McLaughlin represents people who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of nursing home neglect, motor vehicle crashes, defective products, workplace accidents, and medical negligence. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO, and is a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

 

Basic Facts Everyone Should Know About Elder Abuse

nursing_homeAs people age, they may become less able to physically defend themselves or stand up to an abusive caregiver. There are more than half a million reports of this each year, and professionals estimate that at least a few more million cases occur annually but are simply not reported. Abuse may come in many forms, including emotional, abusive, and financial, among others. Learn what signs to look for in elderly family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. An elder abuse attorney specializes in helping victims who are in situations of mistreatment. If a loved one dies at the hands of an abusive caregiver, the family should seek the guidance of a wrongful death attorney to discuss this difficult situation and learn about the legal rights they may have.

Physical abuse includes all types of assault, such as pushing or shoving but also the inappropriate use of confinement, drugs, or restraints. Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver causes undue emotional pain or distress to the elderly person through yelling, insulting, or blaming him or her. Isolating the person from friends and family is also considered emotional abuse. These are all signs that may indicate abuse of some type:

  • Unexplained signs of injury, such as bruises or cuts
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • Torn or dirty undergarments
  • Caregiver denies contact or visitation with others, especially without him or her being present
  • Caregiver threatens or belittles the elderly person
  • Elderly person rocks or mumbles to himself, much like someone with dementia

If someone you love has been injured due to nursing home neglect or elder abuse, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

Adult Guardianships: Caring for the Elderly

If you are caring for an elderly family member who is no longer able to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to consider establishing legal guardianship. A guardian is a person who is appointed by the court as a representative to make decisions on behalf of a person who is found to be incapacitated, known as the ward. In Ohio, guardians are appointed by the probate court, which transfers responsibility for managing ward’s finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions to the guardian.

Ideally, the guardian is a responsible person who has their ward’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, the elderly and other incapacitated individuals are easy prey for unscrupulous individuals. In a recent series of articles, the Columbus Dispatch revealed numerous abuses in what many feel is a broken system. The crux of the problem, they contend, lies in a lack of oversight and accountability:

“This system, which is supposed to look out for the health and well-being of the elderly, the mentally disabled and children, is directed by probate judges in 88 counties. And for lack of detailed guidelines from the state, the counties have 88 different ways of overseeing guardians and their wards.”

For example, guardians in Ohio are not required to visit their wards. While some counties do have mandatory monthly visits, nearly 80 percent do not. The Dispatch also reports that 90 percent of counties do not require prospective guardians to undergo a credit check and 61 percent appoint guardians without even a basic criminal background check.

More than 65,000 Ohioans have been declared incompetent by a judge, and many of those are elderly. As baby boomers age, the number of adult guardianships is expected to soar – flooding an already overburdened court system with even more cases.

The good news is that if you plan ahead, you can generally avoid court appointed guardianship. Taking the time today to meet with an experienced probate attorney will allow you to sign durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, naming the individual you wish to manage your affairs.

If you have questions about guardianship, estate planning or other probate matters, call Probate Attorney Amy Papesh at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.

Source

“Elderly, mentally ill and children trapped in broken court system” by Lucas Sullivan, Jill Riepenhoff, Mike Wagner & Josh Jarman, The Columbus Dispatch, May 18, 2014.

The Growing Problem of Elder Abuse

elder abuse a growing problemFor many of us, moving aging parents and other relatives into a nursing home or similar facility is a sad, yet necessary decision. Unfortunately, countless elderly people are abused, neglected, and exploited by the caregivers at such facilities. This is commonly known as elder abuse.

Elder abuse is any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or other person that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to a vulnerable elderly person. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or even sexual, and it can have serious consequences, including death.

You should consult with an elder abuse attorney immediately if your parent or other loved one has been injured or killed due to suspected elder abuse. Hundreds of thousands of elderly people fall victim to mistreatment by trusted caregivers and other adults every year, and the problem may be bigger than we thought due to underreporting.

Legislatures in all fifty states have passed elder abuse prevention laws. These statutes define the abuse and set forth punishments. Criminal statutes often allow for enhanced penalties if the victim is older than a specified age, meaning that elder abuse can have severe consequences.

If your elderly parent or relative has been seriously injured or died due to such mistreatment, an elder abuse attorney can help you obtain payment for their injuries, pain and suffering, as well as compensation for any losses you sustained due to their injury or death.

 

Source:

“What is Elder Abuse?” – Administration on Aging, Department of Health & Human Services

Protecting Your Loved One in a Nursing Home

 

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Stories of elderly men and women who are made to sit in their beds for days and weeks, not able to move to use the bathroom and suffering in pain.

Putting a mother, father or other loved one in a nursing home is already a difficult decision. Dealing with the additional anxiety that comes with worrying about how well they are being taken care of can be challenging.

The first thing you need to know is that you can and should get involved in your loved one’s life at the nursing home. If you are able, strive to be a constant there. Studies have shown that patients who have regular guests and loving families who care receive better treatment in nursing homes.

Start by getting to know the staff: nurses, doctors, and administrators. They can tell you a lot about the facility and what they offer, but their actions can also tell when things aren’t working correctly. Do they always seem too busy to help? Do the patients look like they are left unattended and uncared-for often? Does the facility smell? Does the staff act as if they don’t want to be there?

Another option you have is attending the nursing home’s care plan meetings. These are typically held monthly and include everyone who has an impact on your loved one’s care at the home. The meeting will be attended by nurses, doctors, dietitians, social services and even their physical therapist. This monthly meeting is to ensure that the patient’s needs are being met currently and plans are being made for future needs as well.

Getting involved is the easiest way to make sure your loved one is protected. If you feel that the nursing home is mistreating them in any way, have a candid conversation with those in charge. If that doesn’t work or falls on deaf ears, there are programs out there designed to investigate your concerns.  You may also want to speak to a lawyer in the event your loved one suffers an injury in the nursing home and you need answers.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

– William P. Campbell

Hidden cameras reveal patient neglect

Hidden cameras reveal patient neglect

In an extraordinary effort, the offices of Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, have teamed up with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to investigate Autumn Health Care of Zanesville – a Muskingum County nursing home. Triggered by numerous failed inspections as well as complaints by residents and their family members, officials used hidden cameras to investigate the allegations of abuse and neglect.

What they saw was disturbing. According to Mike DeWine, the surveillance tapes revealed scenarios such as patients not receiving medical treatments properly and not being fed. “It wasn’t really physical abuse by the staff, but I consider it physical abuse by neglect,” he said. “The nurses with the Ohio Department of Health who watched the tapes were physically sickened by what they saw.”

As a result of the investigation, DeWine announced that Autumn Health Care of Zanesville’s license will be revoked. A recommendation was also sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate the facility’s provider agreement. Autumn Health Care has 30 days to appeal to the ODH and 10 for an appeal for review with CMH.  The facility will remain open until the revocation goes into effect in August.  However, pending appeal, the denial of Medicare/Medicaid payments for all new admissions will go into effect on June 20.

Sadly, instances of elder abuse and neglect are not uncommon. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, call one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.

 

Source:  Zanesville Times Recorder, “Now what for Autumn Health Care?” by Brian Gadd, June 7, 2013

Doctors routinely prescribing risky meds to older patients

Senior citizens, are you taking of the 110 drugs doctors say you should avoid? A new report shows that doctors in the U.S. are too frequently prescribing potentially harmful drugs to older patients.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that one out of every five senior citizens receiving Medicare were prescribed medications that health officials have advised doctors to avoid giving to older patients because of the extremely high risk of severe adverse side effects.

Take a look at the Harvard Pilgrim Health cares list of 110 drugs for the elderly to avoid. Many of the drugs on the list are widely used, especially in younger patients, but their risks are much greater for the elderly. Some of the drugs on the list include:

  • Antihistamines such as Ephedrine, Diphenhydramine and Hydroxyzine
  • Amphetamines like Adderall, Dexedrine and Desoxyn
  • Barbituates such as Amytal, Mephobarbital and Phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Librium and Limbitrol
  • Skeletal muscle relaxants such as Soma, Paraflex and Norflex
  • Oral estrogen
  • Narcotics like Meperidine, Pentazocine and Propoxyphene
  • Vasodilators, such as Ergot mesyloid and Isoxsuprine

The researchers examined data from more than 6 million Medicare patients across the country. They found that about 1.3 million had been prescribed at least one high-risk drug, even though many of them have safer substitutes. Nearly 5 percent of the seniors had been prescribed more than one of these risky drugs at the same time.

This issue, along with elder abuse and nursing home malpractice, are serious concerns for senior citizens and their families.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse or if you have questions regarding prescriptions for senior citizens, you need an experienced elder abuse attorney fighting for you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.