• Suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
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A Booming Hospice Industry in America

Did you know that about half of all Medicare patients who die “will do so as a hospice patient”?  According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, just ten years ago only about 25 percent of all Medicare patients died in hospice care.  Now, in the mid-2010s, that number has doubled.  And it affects Medicare spending, too.  Indeed, in 2014, Medicare is likely to spend about $15 billion on hospice care alone, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.  That number has risen dramatically from the year 2000, when that cost was under $4 billion annually.

Yet, despite the fact that hospice care costs billions of dollars each year, the government doesn’t put an equivalent effort into hospice regulation, according to the article.  To be sure, a recent investigation discovered that “the average hospice hasn’t been certified—meaning fully inspected—in 3 ½ years.”  And some American hospice facilities, 759 to be exact, haven’t received certifications “in more than six years.”  Keep in mind that, under federal law, nursing homes must be inspected much more frequently—every 15 months—and incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect occur nonetheless.  What does this mean for the well-being of patients in hospices that haven’t been inspected recently?

In short, there are more than 400 hospices in the U.S. that have “have racked up 20 or more violations over the past decade,” and a number of those facilities are located in Southern California.

Violations at Southern California Hospice Facilities

When Huffington Post prepared its article on the hospice crisis in our country, it provided an interactive map of the 759 hospice facilities that have received 20 or more violations in the last ten years.  Of the more than 700 facilities shown, nearly 20 exist in Southern California alone.

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Click on the image to visit the interactive map.

What do these facilities have in common?  By and large, the hospices listed are for-profit facilities.  Indeed, nearly 85 percent of the Southern California hospices with 20 or more violations provide for-profit services.  The national average for hospice certification is 3.5 years, and it’s 2.3 years in California.

As we’ve learned recently, the for-profit hospice industry has produced startling statistics.  For example, over the last decade, the Washington Post argues that about 50 percent of hospice residents have been discharged—a figure that suggests for-profit hospice facilities aren’t always providing the end-of-life palliative care they’re supposed to be offering for America’s aging population.

Which hospices should we keep an eye on?  For example, Vitas Healthcare Corporation of California, a for-profit facility in San Diego, hasn’t been certified in 8 years.  It has received 33 violations—a staggering number compared to the state average of 6 violations.  In Poway, CA, Scripps Hospice, another for-profit facility, hasn’t been certified in 7.4 years and has been cited for 15 violations.  A little bit farther north, Tri-City Hospice in Vista, CA hasn’t been certified in almost 7 years and has 2 violations on record.

Hospice care is an important concern for those of us who have elderly loved ones who may require long-term treatment or palliative care.  If you are concerned that your parent has been the victim of elder abuse—whether at a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or a hospice facility—it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer.  Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help with your case.

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Assisted Living Facilities Fail to Pay Fines

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Many of us in the San Diego area have seen commercials for liquid nutritional supplements, particularly those marketed toward older adults.  According to a story in the New York Times, these bottles have become “staples in older people’s refrigerators, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and in hospitals.”  As such, it’s only logical to assume that these liquid supplements are healthy and can even benefit the elderly.

However, a recent set of recommendations from the American Geriatrics Society suggested that these drinks aren’t as beneficial as their manufacturers would like us to believe.  Indeed, replacing elderly adults’ meals with these liquid supplements may even rise to the level of nursing home neglect.


Dangers of Boost, Ensure, and Other Supplement Drinks for the Elderly

According to Paul Mulhausen, the head of the American Geriatrics Society’s “Choosing Wisely” workgroup, drinks like Boost, Ensure, and other generic supplements aren’t healthy at all.  Indeed, Mulhausen refers to them as “liquid candy bars with vitamins.”  He explained that they’re mostly made up of water, “several forms of sugar,” oils, and flavorings.

But don’t the drinks provide nutritional information that looks quite healthy?  It’s true that, in a bottle of rich chocolate Boost Original, a consumer can get 10 grams of protein.  But it’s the high amount of sugar—and few other nutrients—that’s alarming.  For instance, drinking a bottle of Boost with 10 grams of protein also means you’re taking in 28 grams of sugar, and zero fiber.  And even if you choose a flavor other than chocolate, you’re still likely to get at least 15 grams of sugar.  Most of us don’t know how many grams of sugar constitutes too much.  To put it in perspective, some of the allegedly sugary cereals that parents complain about—such as Froot Loops or Lucky Charms—have “much less sugar per serving than these drinks.”

While older adults who have suffered seemingly unexplained weight loss believe they can add some weight with these supplements, it’s important to keep in mind that they often cause gastrointestinal systems with few benefits.  Indeed, “there’s no evidence that such supplements affect mood, functional ability, quality of life, or survival, even if they do add a few pounds.”

Mulhausen emphasizes that an older adult who is experiencing significant weight loss should see a doctor rather than self-medicate with supplements like Boost.  In most cases, if there’s an underlying disease that’s causing the weight loss, a supplement may do more harm than good.

Marketing Problems and Older Adults

Is it possible that these supplements haven’t been marketed appropriately?  Could companies producing liquid supplements like Boost or Ensure face liability for marketing problems?  If Mulhausen is right, the proper use of a liquid supplement probably doesn’t involve using it as a substitute for regular meals.  He explains that “they’re marketed as something that helps you be vigorous and well as you age,” telling seniors that they can “stay strong, stay active, with Boost.”  However, Mulhausen argues that there’s no clear value of the supplements in these situations.

Rather than using potentially harmful supplements, older adults should do their best to “eat real food.”  And for those who need assistance eating, it’s important for caregivers to recognize the difference between drinks claiming to be meal replacements and actual meals.

Has your elderly loved one been mistreated or suffered injuries from neglect at a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Southern California?  At the Walton Law Firm, we take claims of elder abuse very seriously and can discuss your case with you today.  Contact a nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm to learn how we can help.

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Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

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With more than two out of five Americans caring for their aging parents—many of whom do so because they cannot afford to pay for other elder assistance—it’s often difficult to find time for both work and caregiving.  Indeed, according to a recent article in Forbes, many children who act as caregivers worry that, without assistance from their employers, their aging parents may face nursing home neglect.  Lately, however, more employers are “now providing help for employees who feel that they just have to ‘suck it up’ in managing this care and their careers.”

Old Man

What’s the relationship between elder abuse and workplace assistance?  Many factors could play into this correlation, including:

  •      When employees don’t have time to properly locate elder care resources, they make uninformed decisions about nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, or even in-home nurses.  Help from an employer can mean the difference between a care facility with a strong patient record and one with a history of nursing home abuse violations.
  •      When employees don’t have enough money set aside to help pay for care from reputable daycare facilities or nursing homes, their aging parents can end up in a facility that costs less but has a record of neglect.

Elder Care Changes at U.S. Workplaces

The Society for Human Resource Management recently funded a 2014 National Study of Employers, which was conducted by the Families and Work Institute.  What’s the relationship between employer-employee relations and elder care?  In short, “more employers are offering elder care help.”  And for an employee who is also a caregiver, help from management can mean that you can “care for your parent without losing your job” and without putting an elderly loved one at risk.

The recent study surveyed more than 1,000 employers, including those in both for-profit and nonprofit industries.  The results suggested that significantly more employers are looking at elder care as an issue that should be addressed.  In the last five years, the study indicated that the following changes have occurred in the workplace:

  •      More than 40 percent (43 percent, in fact) of the employers surveyed reported that “they offer Elder Care Resource and Referral.  What kind of a service is this?  In short, these employers indicate that they provide employees with “help in finding resources and information about elder care.”  Back in 2008, only 31 percent of these employers offered this form of assistance.
  •      More than 40 percent of these employers also offer Dependent Care Assistance Plans.  These are elder care plans that allow an employee to “set aside money from each paycheck before taxes to pay for elder care expenses.”  This number has risen significantly since 2008, when only 23 percent of employers surveyed offered this kind of plan.

According to the Forbes article, the ever-aging American population likely is what has led more employers to consider elder care.  And if you’re hoping to find employment with a company that offers such benefits, the study determined that larger employers (more than 50 percent) are “more likely to offer Dependent Care Assistance Plans” than smaller employers (only 38 percent).

Contact a San Diego Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Anyone can become the victim of elder abuse or neglect.  Even a facility that looks to be competent upon a first visit can have problems, including issues with staffing numbers and high rates of medication errors.  At the Walton Law Firm, we are dedicated to assisting Southern California residents who have suffered injuries because of nursing home abuse.  Contact a San Diego nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about how we can help.

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Collaboration on Dementia Awareness and Abuse

Old Lady

Do you have a parent who currently suffers from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia?  These degenerative brain diseases are difficult not only on patients, but also on their family members and caregivers.  In response to elder abuse advocates’ concerns about educating and empowering family members of those with dementia, a number of organizations have teamed up to provide a series of “webinars” this summer.

According to a recent press release from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the ACL will join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in hosting a series of three webinars in July, August, and September.  The organizations have collaborated in order to “increase knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia,” as well as to provide “resources that professionals in the public health, aging services, and research networks can use to inform, educate, and empower community members.”  More education about the risks associated with dementia care can help family members and caregivers to quickly spot and report signs of elder abuse.

Indeed, “the drugging of California’s nursing home residents is at an all-time high,” particularly when it comes to Alzheimer’s patients, according to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).  As such, we need more education and awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The webinars will provide updates on resources for patients with Alzheimer’s, collaborations in specific community for assisting those with dementia, and research updates on these diseases.  The first seminar will take place on July 22.  Just two days later, the CANHR is also co-sponsoring a dementia care training event in San Diego.  On July 24, you can attend the CANHR event to learn more about “Comfort as the New Medicine” and dementia care.

Considerations When Selecting a Care Facility for a Person with Dementia

The CANHR provides a number of resources for California residents that complement events like the nationwide summer webinars.  And when it comes to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the CANHR provides a helpful checklist that can help you to evaluate nursing homes or assisted-living facilities where your elderly parent can obtain medical care.

In general, the CANHR emphasizes that you’ll want to evaluate a nursing facility in terms of its environment, its philosophy of care, the types of services it offers, and its staff.  Here are just a few important questions to ask when you’re deciding on who will provide care for your parent or elderly loved one, according to the CANHR:

  •      Is the facility a quiet and calm place?
  •      Is the lighting pleasant and natural?
  •      Is there a “wander alert system”?
  •      Is it easily for the staff to observe common areas, outside areas, and residents’ rooms?
  •      Is the facility equipped to care for dementia patients at all stages of the disease?
  •      Are psychoactive drugs used to treat certain dementia behaviors?
  •      Does the facility design specialized programs for residents with dementia, and are they tailored to individual residents?
  •      Does the facility check on residents throughout the night?
  •      Does the facility have employees with specialized knowledge and training when it comes to dementia care?
  •      What is the ratio of residents to staff during each shift?
  •      What are the qualifications of staff supervisors?

These questions are just some of the inquiries you’ll want to make when you’re looking at care facilities.  If you have questions, an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney can help you today. Contact our office to learn more.

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Global and Local Awareness About Aging and Elder Abuse

Old Guy

Earlier this month, San Diego County’s Aging Summit, which focused on Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving issues, occurred just as the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and the Administration on Aging launched the eighth “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.”  The two projects represent both global and local initiatives to educate family members, caregivers, and the public generally about important issues that older adults face today, as well as the prevalence and risk factors for elder abuse.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is an important issue in California, particularly as we await potential changes to the law surrounding residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs).  At the same time, however, elder abuse is a nationwide—and indeed, a worldwide—concern that affects us all.  If you have questions about how you can help an older adult who has sustained injuries because of elder abuse, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced San Diego elder justice advocate.

What is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

According to the NCEA, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day began back in June of 2006, when a number of internationally focused organizations got together to make it known that violence against older adults is an important matter.  Who’s currently involved?  The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization initially launched the awareness project under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).  Now, each year on June 15, the NCEA and the Administration on Aging also get involved to raise awareness across the U.S., including throughout the state of California.

The creators of the awareness project described its purpose as one of “providing an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.”

San Diego County Aging Summit

While communities throughout the country have an organized opportunity to focus on important matters surrounding nursing home abuse and neglect, the San Diego County Aging Summit also seeks to raise awareness about issues that affect older adults in Southern California.  This year, the summit focused specifically on Alzheimer’s disease, according to an article in U-T San Diego.

How does the summit work?  It takes place every other year.  For 2014, its “major themes” included “safety for seniors and the concerns of family caregivers.”  Alzheimer’s patients across California have been injured by nursing home and assisted-living facility employees.  Whether your loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia suffered physical abuse or emotional abuse, it’s important to know that a San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer can help.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that about 5 million elderly adults currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and a majority of those victims are women.  In San Diego County alone, about 60,000 seniors currently live with this debilitating neurological disease.  About 20 percent of those patients currently reside in care facilities.  It’s especially important to keep an eye out for signs of elder abuse when your loved one suffers from a form of dementia.  As we’ve noted previously, California physicians have been implicated in the off-label use of psychotropic drugs to treat dementia patients.  And employees at assisted-living facilities have been named in serious incidents of nursing home abuse against patients with Alzheimer’s.

It’s never too soon to talk to a San Diego nursing home abuse attorney if you suspect abuse or neglect.  Contact us today to talk about your case.

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Administrators Must Now be Wary of Criminal Charges for Acts Under Their Watch

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A recent article in Reuters reported that the mayor of Los Angeles has declared his support for “a new state law barring public agencies from refusing job applications from people convicted of a crime.”  But could such a law place residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities at greater risk of nursing home abuse and neglect?

Old Guy

No Outright Criminal Background Checks for Employees?

The California law isn’t intended to put California residents at risk, but rather to encourage social rehabilitation.  According to Reuters, Garcetti’s support of the law comes with a deep concern “that millions of people who have been to prison, particularly from minority communities, have little prospect of landing a job once they admit to a conviction.”  The law isn’t just for nursing homes or other care facilities for older adults.  Rather, it’s part of a larger movement to make criminal background checks less of a priority at the start of an interviewing process at many public agencies across the state of California.

Garcetti emphasized that he, like other advocates, don’t want to “prejudge somebody who might turn out to be the best employee in the entire department.”  The law goes into effect in July.

What will the law mean in practice?  In short, it will prevent state and local governments in California from asking about a potential employee’s criminal record when she or he fills out an initial employment application.  However, employers will be able to ask about criminal backgrounds at a later stage of the employment process.  As such, the law aims to prevent potential employees from being rejected for a position at the outset simply because of a criminal record.  Instead, the law hopes to give qualified applicants a “foot in the door” before they must disclose evidence of a criminal history.

When it comes to nursing facilities, elder care advocates worry that the new California law will create a slippery slope that fails to adequately take into account the risks that nursing home residents can face when employees aren’t up to snuff.  Specifically, there’s a new bill that’s currently “making its way through the California Legislature,” and is intend to “eliminate a prohibition against certifying people as nurse’s aides if they have been convicted of felonies, including murder, extortion and sex crimes.”

New California Bill Could Put Elderly Residents at Risk

Similar to the new law that will go into effect next month in California, the bill is “meant to require the state to look beyond the conviction to see if someone has been rehabilitated,” according to Charles Stewart.  Stewart is a spokesperson for Holly Mitchell, the author of the bill.

Yet some members of the California Senate worry that the new bill could end up exposing elderly nursing home residents to employees with dangerous criminal backgrounds.  The topic is a particularly sensitive one in our state, given the myriad problems that have surfaced recently concerning elder abuse in assisted living facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs).

Peter DeMarco, a spokesperson for Republicans in the Senate, argued against the bill, explaining, “you’re talking about people who are working in nursing homes, one of the main points of daily contact for our parents and grandparents.”  Indeed, DeMarco emphasized that, in California, “there’s certainly been no shortage of reports of abuse by people in similar situations.”

Do you have an elderly loved one who is currently in the care of a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Southern California?  While many older adults receive caring and competent attention at these facilities, nursing abuse and nursing home neglect happens to often.  If you are concerned that your parent has been the victim of elder abuse, you should contact a San Diego nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.

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Juries Slamming Nursing Homes for Neglectful Care

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We often think about staff members and other employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities when we worry about whether our elderly loved ones are receiving proper care.  However, spouses, children, and other close relatives of older adults can commit elder abuse, too.  Indeed, anyone can commit elder abuse.  And a recent article from NBC San Diego reports that a woman from La Jolla, Victoria Turner, who has already been accused of abusing her now-estranged husband, attempted to make her way into a care facility in order to force him to sign legal documents.

Old Man

Details of the La Jolla Elder Abuse

Back in March, Robert Stella was “rescued from the garbage and filth in his own home,” where Turner was supposed to be caring for him, according to NBC San Diego.  Stella recently turned 91 years old.  In addition to allowing Stella to reside in a home that was “cluttered and filthy,” Turner has also been accused of tying him to his bed.  Turner is almost 40 years younger than Stella, and she’s currently under investigation for elder abuse, as well as animal neglect and cruelty.

When Stella was found, he was “malnourished and dehydrated.”  As a result, he was taken to the ICU at a local hospital, where he remained for several days.  After recovering from his injuries, Stella was taken to a rehabilitation facility.

According to Stella’s daughter, Turner “used a disguise and fictitious purpose” to make her way into the facility, despite that Stella and his family members recently filed a restraining order against her.  While the news story sounds like a tale from a work of fiction, Turner was indeed spotted wearing “a grey wig and dark glasses,” and carrying “a large vase of wild flowers in front of her face” in order to sneak into the facility.  She refused to give her name to staff members when asked, and employees of the rehabilitation facility suspected that Turner was attempting to conceal her identity.

In addition to being implicated in Stella’s physical abuse and neglect, staffers at the rehabilitation facility suspect that Turner snuck into the care center in order to commit elder financial abuse.  She brought with her “a pair of reading glasses and legal documents for Stella to sign,” reported the NBC San Diego article.

Stella told his daughter that Turner made her way into his room, “put reading glasses on his face and a pen in his hand,” and she insisted that he make changes to his will.  Turner repeatedly insisted that Stella “add her to his estate trust” and “give her control over his medical treatment.”  When Stella wouldn’t sign the papers, staff members at the facility noticed the struggle, at which point Turner was escorted from the room.

How’d Turner even make it to Stella’s room in the first place?  She even bypassed security measures put in place by the facility to ensure that she couldn’t get to Stella.  A nurse’s assistant at the facility indicated that she came in a back door to the rehabilitation center and at a time period in which visitors typically aren’t expected.

Contacting a San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyer

The recent story from La Jolla alerts us to the fact that elder abuse can happen anywhere, and even once-trusted family members or caregivers can be to blame.  If you suspect that your elderly loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today.  The nursing facility may be liable, and we can help.

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Does the number of staff relate to the level of care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities?  According to a recent article in McKnight’sLong Term Care News Online, a new study suggests that staffing levels at nursing homes do in fact “correlate with better quality of care.”  But what does this mean, exactly?  Does simply hiring more staff mean that nursing home residents will be less likely to suffer from nursing home neglect, or should nursing homes invest in specific types of staff members with particular skill sets?

Old Woman

The study, which appeared late last month in Health Economics, suggests that mandatory staffing regulations often result in caregivers with less skill—in short, fewer registered nurses.  And registered nurses could be precisely what many nursing home residents need in order to obtain necessary care.  If your elderly loved one has sustained injuries as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should talk with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible.  A dedicated elder justice advocate at the Walton Law Firm would be happy to discuss your case with you today.

Details of the Study

The study included two key findings.  First, when nursing home staffing standards are met, there’s a significant reduction on the number of “severe deficiency citations.”  At the same time, however, staffing regulations can have an unexpected consequence: fewer registered nurses on staff.  In other words, when staff numbers must increase to meet regulations, nursing homes often decrease the number of registered nurses and employ licensed practical nurses and/or nursing assistants instead.  As a result, tighter regulations on staffing numbers might reduce serious deficiencies, but they also might run the risk of providing care from members of the nursing staff who have less education and skill than registered nurses.

The authors of the study, Min M. Chen, Ph.D., of Florida International University and David C. Grabowski, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Police, used research from more than 45,000 nursing homes.  They gathered data from year-long observations at each of the facilities during a 10-year period from 1996-2006.  The data came from nursing homes in California and Ohio.  Min and Grabowski indicated that they selected those states because state law didn’t have regulations when it comes to a specific number of staff.  As a result, the states acted as “controls” in the study.

California Law and Adequate Staffing Requirements

What kind of staffing requirements exist at California nursing homes?  According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) and under California law, nursing homes in our state “must have sufficient nursing and other employees to meet the needs of each resident in the nursing home at all times.”  As you might imagine, that requirement is a relatively vague one.  Are there others?

Under the California Health and Safety Code §1276.5(a), skilled nursing facilities must provide at least 3.2 hours of nursing care for each resident every day.  It’s important to remember that, even when a nursing home meets its required staff levels, nursing home abuse and neglect can happen.

If you are concerned that your elderly parent or loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced California nursing home abuse attorney today.

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California Seniors and Fraudulent Telephone Calls

Older adults are becoming especially susceptible to elder financial abuse, and a recent article in the San Mateo Daily Journal suggests that police have noticed a “rise in fraudulent telephone scams that target seniors.”  Elder abuse can take many different forms, and scammers often prey upon older adults who aren’t familiar with new financial technologies and have money saved.  And this form of abuse can occur anywhere—at the home of a caregiver or at a nursing home.  For example, we recently wrote about a financial abuse scheme at a Palo Alto care community for the elderly.

Old Lady

What have some of the recent scams looked like?  According to the San Francisco police, there’s a new telephone scam in California in which an older adult receives a phone call from a person who claims to be a paralegal who is calling from the Attorney general’s office.  The caller then tells the elderly victim that there’s “a warrant for her arrest” and that she’ll need to “pay a fee by using a Vanilla prepaid cash card, or risk being sent to jail.”  When the scam first was reported by a woman in South San Francisco, the victim described the caller as having a “Russian accident.”

Seniors in California should be on the lookout for scammers running schemes to defraud people over the phone, and they should also be sure to report any potentially fraudulent telephone calls.  According to the police, many victims of these scams aren’t willing to come forward because they’re “often confused, fearful, or embarrassed by the crime.”  As a result, financial fraud has become “the fastest growing form of elder abuse.”

What can older adults and their loved ones do?  First, always report a situation that might fall within the boundaries of financial abuse—authorities can’t combat the problem if they don’t know it’s happening.  Second, have a clear understanding of the types of scams often run on the elderly.  According to the article in the San Mateo Daily Journal, common scams can include the following:

  •      Telephone calls informing the elderly that they’ve won a sweepstakes or the lottery;
  •      Telephone calls offering home repairs or utility repairs;
  •      Requests for seniors to verify their credit card information;
  •      Calls or emails from an alleged “bank examiner”; or
  •      Contact from an alleged “IRS agent.”

While many of these scams are run over the telephone, scammers also target older adults through email.  As a result, it’s important to monitor electronic communication for potential fraud.

How Can Seniors Avoid Scams?

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), scams that target older adults tend to fall into the following categories: health insurance fraud scams, Medicare scams, telemarketing scams, and home repair fraud.  The NCOA provides some of the following tips for seniors to steer clear of being swindled:

  •      Don’t sign insurance forms or contracts until you’ve looked over them completely and understand the terms;
  •      Only give insurance information or financial information to people who have specifically provided you with care;
  •      Protect your health insurance information and Medicare number as if it were a credit card number or bank account number;
  •      Always review your bills, line-by-line, to ensure that you’ve only been charged for services or care you’ve received;
  •      Never buy products from a company you’re not familiar with; and
  •      When you receive a call that you suspect may be a scam, ask for the caller’s name, business name, address, telephone number, and licensure information.

Most importantly, if you suspect that a loved one has been the victim of fraud, contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer today to discuss your claim.

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When nursing home neglect happens, elderly patients can sustain serious and life-threatening injuries.  But a recent article in the New York Times suggests that care facilities may need to pay particular attention to residents who take high blood pressure medication.  What’s going on with blood pressure medication?  In short, patients who take these drugs might be much more likely to suffer injuries in a dangerous fall.  And, according to the article, “more than 70 percent of those over age 70 contend with high blood pressure.”

Old Guy

Has your elderly loved one sustained injuries in a fall?  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a duty to keep residents safe, and many advocates in California currently are working to make RCFEs safer places for residents.  Don’t hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping victims of elder abuse, and we can answer your questions today.

New Study: Link Between High Blood Pressure and Serious Fall Injuries

In a study looking at 5,000 older adults who are Medicare beneficiaries, more than 85 percent were on at least one type of blood pressure medication, and “most took two or three, or more.”  What are the different classes of blood pressure medications?  For most of us, it’s difficult to distinguish among the available forms of blood pressure drugs.  They include diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and renin-angiotensin system blockers.

According to Dr. Mary Tinetti, the chief of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine, “the prevailing notion is that these medications are safe, with very few adverse effects.”  However, Tinetti’s recent study suggests that anti-hypertensive drugs might not be as safe as we’d like to think.  In fact, the study found that, among older adults with an average age of 80 who had been taking blood pressure medications for up to three years, “the risk of serious fall injuries—fractured bones, brain injuries or dislocated joints—was significantly higher.”  In other words, taking blood pressure medication appears to increase the risk of a serious fall.

Of the 5,000 seniors involved in the study, 9 percent sustained severe injuries in falls during a three-year follow-up period conducted by the researchers.  And “serious fall injuries were 40 percent higher than among people who didn’t take anti-hypertensives.”

While Tinetti has emphasized that her study doesn’t prove that blood pressure medications cause falls, it does suggest that “anti-hypertensive medications are among the logical suspects.”  Why would blood pressure drugs lead to falls?  The answer might be simpler than you’d think.  These drugs lower a person’s blood pressure.  As a result, when older adults stand up, the drugs can “make them fatigued, confused, and dizzy.”  And as Tinetti points out, “those are all risk factors for falls.”

Monitoring Elderly Residents with High Blood Pressure

With a very large percentage of older adults taking anti-hypertensives, Tinetti’s study suggests that a high percentage of the residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities may be at increased risk of a dangerous fall.  While medical authorities have advised altering the guidelines for blood pressure medications given to elderly patients, caregivers may need to take on additional monitoring responsibilities.

Blood pressure management is a tricky field, given the risks associated with untreated high blood pressure.  But are the blood pressure medications worth the risk of a fall?  Remember, serious falls can result in permanent disabilities and life-threatening injuries.  If a loved one has sustained injuries from a fall at a nursing home or residential facility, contact the Walton Law Firm today.  An experienced California nursing home abuse attorney can speak to you about your case.

See Related Blog Posts:

Higher Penalties for Assisted Living Facilities

Nursing Home Falls Usually Caused By Systematic Negligence

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