jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200Many San Clemente residents with elderly loved ones may know that elder abuse often occurs in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and that it can happen at the home of a senior, as well (for a senior who still lives at home). Do we also need to be aware of elder neglect in hospitals and, in particular, in hospice settings? According to a recent report from California Healthline, older hospice patients can be victims of elder abuse and neglect, but many of us do not think about these risks as frequently. Neglect or abuse in hospice can be devastating. Although patients are facing terminal diagnoses, inattention to health needs by staff members can result in irreparable harm.

What do you need to know about elder abuse in hospice?

Elder Neglect Extends to Hospice

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200When elderly residents of Valley Center or another area of San Diego County learn that the nursing home they live in has been the subject of elder abuse and neglect violations and is closing down, what ultimately happens to those residents? That question was posed recently in an article in The Sacramento Bee. While the article largely addresses the fates of nursing home residents at problematic facilities in Northern California, the lessons the article teaches are just as relevant for residents of Southern California. In brief, when dangerous nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities close due to allegations of elder abuse, elderly residents often end up in facilities in which they remain at risk for nursing home abuse and neglect.

Problematic Relocation of Elderly Residents

The article focuses on a recent string of nursing home closures in California, including facilities like Eagle Crest owned by Genesis HealthCare Inc. When facilities owned by this company closed, they sent notices designed to “assure[] family members in writing that loved ones could be accommodated at other company-owned homes.” Here is the issue: Many of the companies’ other facilities “have more serious problems and worse federal ratings than other skilled nursing facilities in the state.”

andres-de-armas-103880-copy-300x200If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home in Rancho Bernardo or elsewhere in the San Diego area, it is important to learn more about recent off-label use of a drug that could be causing serious harm. According to a recent report from CNN News, a medication designed to treat a disorder that is commonly associated with individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is now being used on elderly patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. To be clear, this is off-label use, and the CNN News report suggests that it is not being done for the right reasons. In fact, use of the drug could rise to the level of nursing home abuse.

Off-Label Use of Nuedexta Presents Risks to Nursing Home Patients

What is off-label drug use? As an article in U.S. News & World Report explains, off-label drug use can mean one of a couple of different things. Sometimes “it involves taking a drug for a different medical condition than it’s meant for.” In other situations, the term can mean “taking drugs in non-approved dosage or form.”

peter-hershey-282615-copy-300x200Several months ago, we told you about proposed legislation designed to protect LGBTQ seniors from nursing home abuse in long-term care facilities. That proposed legislation, Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), has now been approved by the California Legislature, according to a recent article in San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Older adults who identify as LGBTQ can face many forms of nursing home abuse and neglect that stem from prejudice and discriminatory behavior.

We want to give you a brief reminder about the proposed law and what it is designed to do, as well as to give you some more information about what it will take for it to become law.

Protections for LGBTQ Seniors Against Discrimination and Nursing Home Abuse

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an older parent or other family member who resides in a nursing home in Poway or elsewhere in Southern California, it is important to understand the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect. In recent years, numerous studies have pointed out that many elder abuse cases involve perpetrators who are also residents of the facilities in which the injuries occur. In particular, cases of sexual abuse in the elderly can happen when one patient sexually assaults another patient. When do issues of consent and capacity arise in these kinds of nursing home abuse claims? Most frequently, as it turns out, when the victim suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Can such a patient ever give consent? In other words, can such a patient actually have the capacity to consent, or is any sexual act always one for which consent simply cannot be given?

This is a question that is currently at issue in California. According to an article in The Sacramento Bee, a 79-year-old woman at a California nursing home may have been sexually assaulted by another patient, a 70-year-old man also residing at the facility. Is there ever a gray area between consent and elder abuse?

Getting the Facts of the Recent Case

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191If you have an elderly loved one who currently resides in an Escondido nursing home or assisted living facility, it is important to properly assess the risks of elder abuse and neglect. According to a recent report from NPR, particularly serious cases of nursing home abuse may go unreported. We know that many seniors sustain severe injuries as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect, and that there are likely many more cases that occur than are reported.

Federal Report Raises Concerns About Severe Cases of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Based on information contained in an alert from the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), however, that number might be even higher than some commentators have feared. According to the NPR report, the alert noted that “cases went unreported despite the fact that state and federal law require that serious cases of abuse in nursing homes be turned over to the police.” Investigators with HHS emphasized that the alert was issued in order to demand “immediate fixes.”

rt_k9r80pya-jean-gerber-300x200When a senior in San Marcos suffers injuries as a result of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, family members should know that this might not be a one-time occurrence. A fact sheet from the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that nursing home abuse can be a single occurrence, or it can be repeated. In many situations, older adults are victims of recurrent abuse. What can you do if you are a senior and are being repeatedly victimized by an individual at your nursing home or assisted-living facility, or if you have an elderly loved one who is in this situation? In such cases, an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order may be able to help.

What is Required for an Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order in California?

According to a fact sheet from the California Courts, an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order may be able to provide some protection to seniors who are suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect. In order to be eligible for one of these types of restraining orders, the elderly adult who is seeking the order must be at least 65 years of age, and must be a victim of one of the following:

dayne-topkin-101956-copy-300x200What is elder or dependent adult abuse according to California law? For residents of Vista and other parts of Southern California, it is important to learn more about the protections available to seniors who may be subject to nursing home abuse. A recent article in CalCoast News reports that the California Department of Justice arrested the owner and a former employee of an assisted living facility in the state for elderly dependent adult abuse. This case involves a critical case of nursing home neglect that resulted in the death of a resident. It serves as a reminder that laws are in place not only to punish perpetrators of elder abuse and neglect, but that there are also legal protections in place to prevent further abuse.

Details of the Recent Elder Neglect Case

As the article explains, the incident that led to the elder and dependent adult abuse charges occurred several years ago. In December of 2014, a senior, Mauricio Edgar Cardenas, at The Manse on Marsh, an elderly facility in San Luis Obispo, attempted to cross a street by himself. He was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle, the driver of which was cleared of wrongdoing. When the accident happened, it was dark outside, and authorities determined that the motor vehicle driver could not have seen the victim in time to stop or to avoid hitting him.

toni-hukkanen-87089-copy-300x189Could Carlsbad residents with dementia see improvement in their condition by using an app for iPhones or iPads? According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, “a brain training game played on an iPad improves memory for those in the earliest stages of dementia.” The article cites a recent study conducted by scientists in Britain and published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. Many nursing home residents in Southern California who become victims of nursing home abuse also suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Could apps help to reduce some of the risks for elder abuse and neglect by improving conditions for dementia patients?

Study Addresses Episodic Memory

The study’s findings are particularly important in terms of episodic memory, which “is used to remember thing important for the day, but which can be forgotten after that.” For instance, a person might remember where she put her car keys or where she parked her car. The study introduced the memory exercise game app to 21 different people who have been diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, in addition to 21 other individuals for control. This condition, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, often is “considered a transitional stage to actual dementia.” When a person has this condition, they experience “lapses of memory greater than typical with normal aging.”

christopher-ayme-157131-copy-300x200Oceanside nursing home residents and their families should consider learning more about therapy animals and how they could help to improve the general health and quality of life for seniors who reside in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California. According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, animal therapy is becoming more prominent in California and throughout the country, more residents in long-term care facilities are considering the benefits of therapy animals. An article in Psychology Today discusses a recent study that addresses the impact of therapy dogs in nursing homes and the question of whether they could help to improve the emotional health of seniors in these facilities.

It is important to raise public awareness about issues concerning nursing home abuse and neglect in order to prevent such incidents from happening. At the same time, seniors who reside in these facilities need to be in good emotional and psychological health in order to engage in self-care, and to have the strength to report incidents of abuse or neglect when they arise. In addition, when seniors are subject to nursing home abuse, they need strong immune systems to fight injuries. Emotional and psychological health impacts physical health and the immune system—when one falters, the other can, too. Can therapy animals have this effect?

Animals Visitation Programs and Therapy Dogs in Long-Term Care Settings