zdunbsai3p0-geo-darwin-300x225When many of us think about nursing home abuse or neglect in Carlsbad, California, we imagine scenarios in which patients have clearly been subjected to inadequate care. Yet nursing home neglect can be much more insidious, particularly when it involves malnutrition. What is malnutrition, exactly? An article in the Huffington Post clarifies that malnutrition simply refers to “insufficient food intake compared with nutrition requirements.”

As a recent peer-reviewed article in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care explains, “malnutrition in the nursing home is increasingly recognized as a major international research priority, given the expanding geriatric populations, serious consequences, and challenges conducting research in nursing homes.” What do you need to know about the connections between nursing home neglect and malnutrition in Southern California?

Learning More About Malnutrition Among Elderly California Residents

Fb9bc088db57af5328b8a36aa37a8e6e_article-300x169If your elderly loved one resides in a San Diego nursing home and requires antibiotics for a bacterial infection, can you trust that your loved one is receiving the proper medication? According to a report from Kaiser Health News, “antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly to ailing nursing home residents up to 75 percent of the time,” based on data gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When seniors are not provided with the right antibiotics, the antibiotics can lose their effectiveness, leading those same seniors to develop serious and life-threatening conditions at a later date when those antibiotics no longer function as they should. Do these medication errors rise to the level of nursing home abuse or neglect? What can you do to help your elderly parent to avoid contracting a superbug at a nursing facility in Southern California?

Learning More About the Rise of Superbugs in Nursing Homes

As the article explains, just about one year ago, the CDC advised nursing homes across the country that they needed to take immediate action “to protect more than 4 million residents from hard-to-treat superbugs that are growing in number and resist antibiotics.” Elderly people in California nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to superbugs because their immune systems are not as strong as they once were. As the CDC has emphasized, “one way to keep older Americans safe from these superbugs is to make sure antibiotics are used appropriately all the time and everywhere, particularly in nursing homes.”

503px-Paracetamol_acetaminophen_500_mg_pills_crop-1-252x300This past spring, a right-to-die law took effect in California, permitting residents of San Diego County who are terminally ill to make the decision to end their lives through doctor-prescribed medications. As an article from NBC News explained back in June 2016, California’s “End of Life Option Act” made the state the fifth in the nation “to create a legal process for patients to obtain aid in dying.”

While the law comes with many protections to prevent a situation in which a person takes life-ending drugs without making that choice for him or herself, numerous elderly safety advocates have voiced concerns about how the law could enable certain forms of elder abuse, particularly among patients with dementia. At the same time, however, some Californians think the law has not gone far enough to protect patients suffering from dementia. What do you need to know about the law and how it may impact elderly patients affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia?

Understanding the Key Tenets of the End of Life Option Act

ydigmrc7xsc-christopher-300x225Has an elderly loved one mentioned a fall-related injury in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in San Diego County? Or, have you learned that an elderly parent suffered a fall while under the care of a nursing home staff? Falls often result from nursing home neglect, and it is important to ensure that our elderly loved ones are safe from preventable accidents and injuries. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, fall-related injuries are becoming a more serious concern in California and throughout the country. One researcher in particular, Jon Pynoos, emphasizes that falls really are preventable. What should you know about falls among the elderly and learning about new methods of prevention?

Paying Greater Attention to Falls Among the Elderly

As the article notes, about “one-third of seniors over 65 fall each year, causing more than 2.5 million injuries treated in ERs, leading to 734,000 hospitalization and more than 30,200 deaths, with an annual price tag exceeding $40 billion.” Those rates will only increase as the U.S. population continues to age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that deaths from falls among the elderly will rise to around 100,000 per year—a number that is four times the current rate of fall-related fatalities. Given these numbers, both government and private funding sources to study fall prevention have helped to make new research possible.

tuyyno_vdp0-sam-wheeler-300x199If you have an elderly loved one who recently required care in a hospital and now will need long-term care in a nursing home in Escondido, how do you know which facility will provide the best quality of care and does not have a history of nursing home abuse or neglect? According to a recent article from NPR, a potential change to the rules concerning Medicare and hospitals’ rights and responsibilities toward patients could mean that more hospitals, which often see elderly patients in Southern California and throughout the country, could provide helpful information to families struggling to select a quality nursing home in their budget.

Hospitals Required to Provide ‘Unrestricted’ Information About Nursing Homes

Up to this point, why have hospitals in San Diego County avoided giving patients and their families information about certain nursing homes that they believe can provide quality care? The article explains that “hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients’ choices can’t be restricted.”

Sitting_Room_At_The_Braeside_Home_In_Preston_Ontario,_1947_(5933797538)According to a recent report from U.S. News & World Report, nursing homes in California, including in San Diego, may rank better than facilities in other parts of the country. However, just because a nursing home makes the list for having the highest number of high-quality nursing homes, according to a recent article in Senior Housing News, that fact alone does not necessarily correspond to the state having a particularly high percentage of high-quality facilities. If you have a loved one who currently resides in a nursing home in Southern California, or if your aging parent soon may be moving into an assisted-living facility, it is important to understand what nursing home rankings do (and do not) mean.

What can we learn about the quality of California’s nursing homes from the report in U.S. News & World Report? What other issues do we need to take into consideration when evaluating the quality of a particular nursing home and the risks of nursing home abuse?

Rankings for High-Quality American Nursing Homes

LAFD_ambulanceWhen an elderly loved one in San Diego requires nearly constant medical care, many family members are at their most concerned when that loved one has to be hospitalized. However, according to a recent article in California Healthline, one of the most dangerous periods for elderly patients actually starts after they leave the hospital, and perhaps not for the reasons you might think. The problem is not that the elderly person does not receive sufficient care after a hospital visit, but rather that the patient failed to receive proper care while in the healthcare facility. Does this rise to the level of elder neglect?

Problems Associated with Poor Transitional Care

The time between leaving the hospital and receiving care either from a home caregiver or staff members at a nursing home in Southern California is known as a period of “transitional care.” As Alicia Arbaje, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explains, “poor transitional care is a huge, huge issue for everybody, but especially for older people with complex needs.” While “the most risky transition,” Arbaje explains, “is from hospital to home with the additional need for home care services,” since it is the type of situation about which the least is known, injuries resulting from poor transitional care can also happen when the patient goes from a hospital to a local nursing home.

454px-The_PhotographerIf you have an elderly loved one in a San Diego nursing home, should the prevalence of sex offenders within the facility impact how you gauge your relative’s personal safety and risk of nursing home abuse? We are not referring to convicted sex offenders who are working at nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, but rather convicted sex offenders who themselves are seniors and require attention in a facility designed for the elderly. Do such situations increase the likelihood of elder sexual abuse in the nursing home setting?

Notifying Nursing Homes About Residents on the Sex Offender Registry

A recent article in the Dayton Daily News raised this question, pointing out that in California the law requires the Department of Corrections or another agency to notify the nursing home if a person who is listed on the sex offender registry plans to move into a care facility. In the event that a government agency does not report this information, it is up to the offender to self-report that she or he is on the sex offender registry. In addition, nursing homes in San Diego and across the state are required to “notify all residents and employees,” according to the article. But are those steps sufficient to protect other residents from the risk of elder sexual abuse? On a related note, does the risk of being a victim of elder sexual abuse increase when an elderly person on the sex offender registry moves into a nursing home?

Patch_of_the_San_Diego_Police_DepartmentLaw enforcement officials are often in a unique position to recognize signs and symptoms of elder abuse in the San Diego area. Yet, as an article from In Public Safety points out, police officers frequently are not sufficiently trained in recognize nursing home abuse and neglect, and as such they inadvertently miss the symptoms that could help to prevent future injuries and, in some cases, deaths. Since nursing home abuse cases also can coincide with calls concerning assault and domestic violence, it is important for law enforcement officers to be trained to recognize the signs of elder abuse.

Getting Law Enforcement Officials in California Involved in Elder Abuse Awareness

One of the first things we can do, the article suggests, to change the ways in which police officers evaluate whether someone has been the victim of elder abuse is to require specific training about nursing home abuse and neglect. In our state, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) does have required training for mandatory reporters, but not all law enforcement officials understand the extent of elder abuse in the community and the ways that we can work together to help prevent it.

800px-Cbh_emergencydepartment1If an elderly San Diego County resident who has sustained injuries as a result of nursing home abuse ends up in an emergency department, will he or she be properly diagnosed with injuries caused by elder abuse? According to a recent article in Psych Central, formal diagnoses of elder abuse are made in only one out of every 7,700 visits to emergency rooms across the country. This information comes from a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California San Diego, and Weil Cornell Medicine.

Given what we know about rates of elder neglect and nursing home abuse—a fact sheet from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) predicts that about 10% of all Americans aged 60 and older have been subject to some form of elder abuse—the notion that only about .01% of seniors who seek treatment in emergency departments are diagnosed with injuries caused by elder abuse seems startling. What else does this study teach us, and what can we do to help?

Majority of Elder Abuse Cases are Not Reported or Go Undiagnosed