jyotirmoy-gupta-443923-unsplash-copy-300x200Whether you have an elderly loved one in a Vista nursing home or in a skilled nursing facility elsewhere in California, it is important to understand the risk of serious falls as a result of nursing home negligence. We often think of nursing home abuse in terms of intentionally harmful behavior toward nursing home residents, yet many seniors get hurt because facilities are understaffed and nursing home neglect leads to serious and sometimes fatal injuries. According to a recent report in The Daily Journal, a California assisted-living facility is facing lawsuits after the deaths of two patients from falls last year. The family members allege that the facility was understaffed and that the falls resulted from nursing home negligence.

We want to discuss the recent case with you and then talk through some ways to prevent senior falls in nursing homes.

Assisted-Living Facility Faces Lawsuits for Fall-Related Fatalities

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191Do you have a loved one with dementia who resides in a nursing home in Carlsbad? If so, it is important to pay close attention to the risks of overmedication for dementia patients. While we have been discussing the problematic off-label use of antipsychotic drugs in patients with Alzheimer’s for quite some time, in more recent months we have not heard a lot about this issue. However, a lack of news coverage about an issue does not mean it has been resolved in a satisfactory manner. According to U.S. News & World Report, a recent report from Human Rights Watch found that “nursing homes unnecessarily give antipsychotic drugs to more than 179,000 residents per week.”

Off-Label Use of Antipsychotic Drugs Persists in American Nursing Homes

The Human Rights Watch report says that antipsychotic drugs continue to be administered to elderly nursing home residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia when those drugs have not been prescribed to treat their conditions. Potentially even more harmful, the report suggests, is that those patients are not giving “free and informed consent” to the off-label use of these antipsychotic drugs. These findings appeared in a human rights watch report entitled, “They Want Docile.”

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200As many Oceanside residents with elderly loved ones know, nursing homes in Southern California and throughout the country have been cited for improper discharges of patients, amounting largely to evictions or the “dumping” of patients. According to a recent article in Skilled Nursing News, reports about such actions have “become a widespread issue—so much so that it is now one of the most frequent complaints made to states’ long-term care ombudsman programs” in California and across the U.S. When elderly patients are evicted from skilled nursing facilities, they can face nursing home abuse and neglect in the facilities where they end up living. At the same time, the mere act of “dumping” patients may in and of itself constitute nursing home abuse or neglect.

In response to these complaints, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “has announced a new initiative aimed at blunting the growing trend of improper discharges at skilled nursing facilities.” Will federal efforts help to prevent the continued evictions of nursing home residents in San Diego County?

Many Patient Discharges Violate Federal Regulations

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in San Clemente or elsewhere in San Diego County, it is important to learn more about sexual abuse and how it affects seniors. Nursing home abuse and neglect often involves physical or mental abuse of the elderly, but it can also include sexual abuse. Sometimes perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing home settings are staff members, while in some situations other residents themselves may be the perpetrators.

A recent article in Reuters emphasized that the #MeToo movement is having an important effect across the country: More victims are reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual abuse. We would like to focus on how this larger societal shift in addressing sexual assault and abuse can influence victims of sexual abuse in the nursing home setting. We will consider recent discussions of elder sex abuse and then discuss methods of detection and prevention.

Turning Media Attention to Sexual Abuse in the Nursing Home Setting

fabrizio-verrecchia-221046-unsplash-copy-300x200Now is as good a time as any to begin thinking carefully about how citizens can play a role in preventing nursing home abuse and elder neglect in Valley Center. According to a recent article in The Acorn, when seniors see their family members and friends more often, signs and symptoms of elder abuse may be more obvious. Once the holiday season ends, it is important to consider ways of helping ensure the safety and well-being of elderly loved ones. The article points citizens to the California Department of Justice’s “A Citizen’s Guide to Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse.” The publication continues to provide helpful advice for Valley Center residents, and we want to discuss a few key features of the publication with you.

Why should citizens learn more about preventing elder abuse? As the publication points out, “it may take the courage of a caring family member, friend, or caretaker to take action when the victim may be reluctant.”

Recognize Where Elder Abuse can Occur

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home or assisted living facility in Rancho Bernardo or elsewhere in the San Diego area, it is important to learn more about how facilities’ corporate ties could impact quality of care. According to a recent article in The New York Times, seniors in facilities across the country are suffering nursing home neglect injuries as a result of “lackluster care” and a “scarcity of nurses and aides.” Yet the underfunding of nursing homes actually could be linked to the “constellation of corporations” to which many facilities are tied. In other words, nursing home owners’ attachments to corporate entities could be a primary cause of elder neglect incidents occurring at facilities across the country.

Outsourcing Services to Corporations Linked to Nursing Home Owners

When we hear that nursing homes are underfunded and understaffed, are those problems actually a result of the facilities wanting to provide quality care failing to have enough funding to hire an adequate number of staff members? Or, as the article suggests, are these problems tied to the more disturbing reason that nursing home owners have business interests that come first above patient safety and quality care? According to The New York Times, an “increasingly common business arrangement” involves nursing home owners outsourcing “a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control.”

anh-nguyen-498075-unsplash-copy-151x300Many cases of nursing home neglect injuries in Encinitas and other parts of San Diego County result from falls. In certain situations, seniors are not monitored properly, and they suffer serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries after falling. In other scenarios, nursing home staff members may fail to provide the proper health aids, such as walkers, which can prevent a fall-related injury. According to a news release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 29 million elderly Americans suffer falls each year, resulting in more than $31 billion in Medicare costs. Given the prevalence of falls among seniors, are there ways to improve preventive measures?

According to a recent article in The New York Times, Southern Californians may be able to take some senior safety tips from the Dutch, who “are living longer than in previous generations” with the help of “courses that teach them not only how to avoid falling, but how to fall correctly.”

Fear of Falling can Lead to Injuries Among Older Adults

jonathan-adeline-259286-copy-300x200Whether you are reading about nursing home evictions in Poway or elsewhere in Southern California, it is important to think carefully about the rising rates of evictions and how these actions might rise to the level of elder and dependent adult abuse in the state. According to a recent article in California Healthline, more nursing homes in California are evicting patients who allegedly cannot pay after being assessed higher fees, while others are evicting residents and patients with certain illnesses and medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Do improper evictions rise to the level of nursing home abuse? Can you file an elder abuse lawsuit following an improper eviction from a skilled nursing facility in California?

Evictions Complaints on the Rise in California

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200When nursing home abuse lawsuits arising from allegations of elder abuse and neglect in Escondido go to jury trials, how do those juries decide liability? When cases go to juries, members of the jury are provided with the “essential factual elements” of the claim. Then, they are instructed that if the essential factual elements have been met, to find in favor of the plaintiff. Different types of nursing home abuse and neglect claims come with different jury instructions.

We want to give you some more information about the essential factual elements of a nursing home neglect claim as well as some examples to clarify how a jury might decide a particular case.

Nursing Home Neglect in California

casey-horner-353950-copy-153x300What types of safety protections are in place for patients at San Marcos nursing homes? While we recently discussed elder safety investigations in San Diego County, it turns out that facilities across the state of California are not doing enough to protect seniors against nursing home abuse in the first place. In other words, although San Diego County’s investigations may be a model for other regions of the country, the state ranks last when it comes to elder abuse protections designed to prevent abuse and neglect, according to a recent report in WalletHub.

Need for States to Take Steps to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

As the report explains, “elder abuse affects as many as 5 million people per year, and 96 percent of all cases go unreported.” Given that a large portion of the population is currently age 65 or older—and that the population in that age group is expected to almost double by the year 2050—it is particularly important to think about preventive measures so that elder abuse does not occur. While enforcement methods are significant in the shorter term, the goal should be to eradicate, inasmuch as possible, the risks of abuse for seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. The report ultimately suggests that the impetus for this needs to be on individual states.