Articles Posted in Peer Abuse

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:

When we think about nursing home abuse and neglect, most of us imagine a scenario in which a healthcare professional or nursing home employee mistreats an elderly resident. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University Weill Medical College found that many facilities actually see “a high level of resident-to-resident elder mistreatment.”

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and it can result in serious and life-threatening injuries to your elderly loved one. If you believe that your parent has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer.

file0001780974018Aggressive Encounters with Fellow Residents

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Peer-on-peer abuse in the nursing home setting is a problem that gets very little attention, but occurs with more and more frequency. A horrific example of this occurred two weeks ago at Chino Valley Health Care Center in Pomona. On November 23rd, John Lazzaro, a 91-year-old resident of the rehabilitation hospital, was killed after being attacked by fellow resident Matthew Harvey, who was only 47.

The details of the attack are kind of sketchy, but according to news accounts Lazarro was found in his room with severe wounds to his arm and face. So severe were the wounds to his arm it required amputation. It is very likely that Mr. Lazzaro couldn’t survive the surgery and died shortly thereafter.

An 81-year-old nursing home resident beat his 94-year-old roommate to death with a closet rod in their Laguna Hills nursing home. Sheriff’s have arrested William McDougall of Mission Viejo for causing the death, and he has been booked for murder. The victim, Manh Van Nguyen of Laguna Woods, was pronounced dead upon arrival to Saddleback Memorial Hospital.

l9oh7z-l9oh6tmcdougall.jpg The motive in the killing is unclear. Both men were residents at Palm Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, a licensed skilled nursing facility in Laguna Hills. (More info about the facility here) “What prompted the attack is still under investigation. Obviously, this is very unusual,” sheriff’s spokesperson Jim Amormino told the media. Staff at the nursing home have apparently told sheriff’s investigators that there no prior conflicts between McDougall and Nguyen.

What causes violence such as this in the nursing home? It could be a number of things. First, it is not uncommon for residents with memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease to act aggressively toward caregivers and others. Our law firm has represented victims of peer-on-peer abuse in the past. Another possibility is medications. What medications was McDougall on (or not on) that might have contributed to this offense. And, of course, maybe McDougall is just a violent person. No doubt all of this will be uncovered in the criminal investigation, which is just starting.

California should take heed. Illinois has been housing mentally ill felons with the elderly in state nursing homes and the results have not been pretty. An elderly woman was raped by an ex-convict, a frail man had his throat slashed, and in one home a wheelchair-bound man died of massive head injuries that a doctor said it looked like he was hit with a baseball bat.

According to one report, mentally ill patients make up over 15% of Illinois’ nursing home patient population, and among them are approximately 3,000 ex-felons with histories of serious crimes. Nursing home owners downplay that numbers of violent attacks, arguing they are miniscule in context to the whole, but there is a growing concern. The states largest nursing home owner’s association has advocated an end to the practice, asking state officials to create separate facilities for those residents who may pose a danger to others.

While the population of U.S. residents is aging, those who can afford to do so are opting from home health or assisted living care over traditional nursing home or convalescent hospitals.

Aggressive behavior by nursing home residents is on the rise, and is becoming a big problem in nursing homes and residential care facilities around the country.

Resident-on-resident aggression is substantially more common than previously thought,” said Dr. Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist. “While they are mentally impaired, they are not physically impaired. They can do considerable damage.”

It is estimated that roughly half of Americans over the age of 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. With the population of elderly set to explode in the next 20 years – those 65 or older will make up 20 percent of the U.S. population – most experts agree that the problem is only going to get worse.

Police arrested a nursing home resident after he punched a fellow resident because he thought the man was stealing his food. According to new accounts, Ardyce Nauden was charged with aggravated battery after punching 72-year-old and wheelchair-bound Andres Cardona in the face, knocking him unconscious.

Nauden allegedly stated, “He was trying to steal my food and that is why I hit him. I held onto the bed with my right hand and hit him with my left hand.”

Peer-on-peer resident abuse in the nursing home setting is not uncommon. A study by Cornell University found that aggression and violence between residents is more prevalent than abuse or neglect from nursing home employees. According to the Cornell study, peer abuse is nursing home is a problem that has received little attention.

A nursing home in suburban Chicago has been sued for failing to protect a 69-year-old resident from a sexual assault by a 21-year-old mentally ill man. According to the lawsuit, which alleges nursing home negligence and elder abuse, the skilled nursing facility tried to cover up the rape by telling authorities that it was consensual sex.

This case highlights the dangers in mixing elderly residents with younger patients who suffer from mental illness. The lawyer from the victim contends that a profit motive drives homes to mix residents.

“The only possible reason that you would be in this situation is a profit motive,” said Pete Flowers, attorney for the woman. “You want more residents in your facility, but you’re unwilling to pay for the necessary elements to protect all the residents.”

In increasing numbers, young and middle-aged mentally ill patients are being housed with older people in nursing homes. It has proved to be a dangerous practice for older residents. The younger, stronger, mentally-disturbed residents have lashed out at the older, frailer residents who often are defenseless against the attacks. Sons and daughters of the elderly victims of attacks are left wondering why their loved ones were not protected better.

In the past seven years, there has been a 41 percent increase in the number of mentally ill patients housed in nursing homes, which as led to a correlated increase in peer-on-peer physical abuse. The reasons for the increase are multi-fold, including the fact that states have failed to provide adequate facilities for the mentally ill. It is also financially advantageous to house the mentally ill and the elderly together. But while it may make financial sense, it puts the elderly at risk and inadequate measures have been taken to protect the elderly.

Under state and federal law, nursing home residents are guaranteed freedom from physical abuse. At Walton Law Firm LLP, we have represented victims of violent attacks in nursing homes. These attacks are often a result of negligence on the part of the facility including a failure to provide adequate staffing. If you have questions about the care of your loved one in a nursing home, please contact Walton Law Firm LLP for a free and confidential consultation.

Registered sex offenders, parolees, and individuals with violent pasts are living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities all over America according to the advocacy organization A Perfect Cause, which found 1,600 registered sex offenders in U.S. nursing facilities with senior citizens.

Wes Bledsoe, founder of the organizations, says that the group has documented over 60 rapes, murders, and assaults committed by criminal offenders inside these facilities. There is currently no federal or state law that keeps sexual offenders out of long term care facilities, and, in fact, many are sent to facilities by local judges, sheriffs, and county workers. Bledsoe is testifying before congress this week on the subject, and will call for the establishment of separate and secure nursing facilities for known sexual offenders, as well as a requirement of criminal background checks on all incoming residents.

“I hope that some of the congressional leaders don’t sleep soundly tomorrow,” said Bledsoe, “and that this makes an impression on them that right now, in this moment, we have people in harm’s way.”