Articles Posted in Alzheimers and Dementia

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.”

rt_k9r80pya-jean-gerber-300x200While its effects may not be noticeable for years down the road, a new Alzheimer’s study could help to prevent nursing home abuse in San Marcos and other cities throughout the country. As the Alzheimer’s Association elucidates, elderly nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often are subject to abuse and neglect. As such, if we can find a way to lower the rate of seniors who suffer from dementia, we might also then be able to lower the rate of nursing home abuse cases tied to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. A new study is hoping to accomplish just that. According to a recent article in SFGate, a study on Alzheimer’s aims to prevent the disease before it begins.

The A4 Study Aims to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the article, Dr. Reisa Sperling, a researcher at Harvard Medical School who serves as the project director for the A4 Study, aims for it to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What is the meaning behind the study’s name? It refers to “Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s.” Currently, there are more than 10,000 adults in the “Baby Boomer” generation who are entering into old age rapidly, and thus becoming at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As Dr. Sperling explains, “I have witnessed the devastating effects of this disease in my work as a neurologist, as a clinical researcher and, sadly, in my own family.” Now, Dr. Sperling is undertaking prevention trials through the A4 Study that are designed “to try to stop memory loss before it begins.”

ian-schneider-95541-300x200For anyone in Carlsbad who has an elderly loved one residing in a nearby nursing home, it can be difficult to learn about risks related to certain types of medications. In some situations, however, the use of certain drugs in nursing homes may significantly increase a senior’s risk for pneumonia. In particular, patients with Alzheimer’s disease may be particularly susceptible. While we often hear about the dangers of over-medication and the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs, discussed relatively recently in a story by NPR, it is not as common for us to hear about prescription sedatives and pneumonia risks among patients with dementia. According to a recent article in Medical News Today, new research suggests that patients with dementia may be at greater risk for developing pneumonia, especially when they are prescribed sedatives such as benzodiazepines.

If a dementia patient on certain prescription medications develops pneumonia, could it be a result of nursing home neglect?

Nursing Home Prescriptions and Elder Neglect

PET_scan-normal_brain-alzheimers_disease_brainWe often read news stories about nursing home abuse and dementia patients, but are elders who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at greater risk of elder abuse? According to a fact sheet from the University of California, Irvine’s Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, advocates generally agree that seniors who suffer from dementia “are thought to be at greater risk of abuse and neglect than those of the general elderly population.” What else should you know about dementia and its connection to nursing home abuse?

Growing Number of Americans with Dementia

As the fact sheet notes, the total number of elderly Americans is expected to grow substantially in the coming decades. As the total population of America’s seniors grows, the total population of elders with dementia will also increase. Currently, around 5.3 million seniors in our country have Alzheimer’s disease. Of those people, a little over 5 million are aged 65 or older, while about 200,000 people under the age of 65 suffer from this disease. By 2030, however, the Center predicts that approximately 7.7 million elders will have Alzheimer’s disease. Any by year 2050, that number will grow to around 16 million older adults with Alzheimer’s.

DSC_0041While it might sound unlikely, perpetrators of nursing home abuse are not always those employed as caregivers for the elderly. According to a recent article in HealthDay, many elderly residents at nursing homes suffer injuries at the hands of other patients. The article cites a recent study that determined “one in five nursing home residents had been involved in an incident with a fellow resident within the past month.” In a majority of cases, those “incidents” were only verbal altercations and did not involve physical violence. However, as the article explains, “some seniors were involved in physical scuffles, and some experienced inappropriate sexual behavior.”

It is difficult enough to feel like you have conducted sufficient background research into the caregivers at a nursing home or assisted-living facility before feeling comfortable with your elderly loved one receiving care at such a place. But how can you determine whether some instances of elder abuse actually were caused by patients living within the facility?

Elder Mistreatment Not Openly Discussed

ElderCare-1024x571When does a staffing shortage at a nursing home or assisted-living facility become grounds for an elder neglect case? According to a recent article in the San Francisco Examiner, staffing levels at skilled nursing facilities and other residences for elderly Californians “is an ever-expanding problem.” The need for support services continues to grow in the state, yet the demand doesn’t always fit the need.

To be sure, “individuals 85 years and older, the oldest of the old, are one of the fastest-growing segments of the population.” But, does California have the tools it needs to properly care for these elderly residents?

Rapidly Growing Elderly Population

New Bill Raises Penalties for ElderSacramento_Capitol Abuse and Neglect

Is the state of California taking seriously the problems with nursing home abuse and elder neglect at assisted-living facilities?  According to a recent article in UT San Diego, Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a bill that will impose “a 100-fold increase in the top fine for violations of state regulations at assisted-living homes for the elderly.”  Before Governor Brown signed the bill, the highest fine for a violation that results in the death of a resident was only $150.  Now, the top fine rose drastically to $15,000.

Fines for elder abuse and neglect resulting in the death of an older adult are not the only penalty increases.  To be sure, the bill will also raise the maximum fine for “violations leading to serious injury or abuse from $150 to $10,000.”  And the new law will not just apply to assisted-living facilities, as was originally proposed in the bill co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego.  It will “apply to all community care facilities in the state.”

Nursing homes in California should take note of the negative publicity surrounding elder abuse and assisted-living facilities in our state.  A recent article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel described serious nursing home abuse allegations that point to fraudulent Medicare claims and poor patient treatment.  In Watsonville, located in Santa Cruz County, the owners of two nursing homes are facing a lawsuit.  According to the report, federal prosecutors sued the owners “allegiDSC08554-bng that leaders made fraudulent Medicare claims” and “persistently and severely overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents.”

Overmedication and Fraud Allegations

The two nursing homes at issue are Country Villa Watsonville Easy Nursing Center and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing Center, both in Santa Cruz County.  The owners have been linked to serious crimes connected to nursing home abuse and neglect.

Does your elderly parent have dementia? Many California residents live with dementia, and their children and family members worry about what kind of care is best for a dementia patient. A recent article in U-T San Diego explained the different options for dementia care. According to Dr. Diane Darby Beach, the Director of Education and Outreach for the Vista Gardens Memory Care Community, there are basically three different kinds of providers who offer long-term care to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia: home care, assisted living, and adult day care.

Dementia%20Woman%20Credit.jpgAre some of these options better than others? Depending on your unique situation, there are many factors to consider when deciding what kind of care is best for someone who suffers from dementia. If you have questions or concerns about the level of care your elderly loved one has received or is currently receiving, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer. At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience dealing with elder law issues and can answer your questions today.

Options for Dementia Care

A few months ago we talked about the widespread use of antipsychotic drugs for patients with dementia. Across the United States, off-label use is a major problem in nursing homes. In case you don’t remember, “off-label use” refers to situations in which physicians prescribe drugs for patients without medical diagnoses that actually require the use of those drugs. In nursing homes, off-label use of antipsychotics is most prevalent for residents suffering from dementia.

In many cases these patients are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. What can we do about it here in California? If you’re concerned that an elderly loved one has suffered abuse at a nursing home or assisted-living facility, the first step is to contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. In fact, many nursing home abuse lawyers are licensed by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR). A CANHR elder justice advocate will ensure that your elderly loved ones are protected and safe.

California Initiatives for Antipsychotic Medication Reduction