Nursing Home Abuse attorney in el cajon

Protecting Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse

There is a crisis in America’s nursing homes that is not receiving nearly the attention it deserves. The aging population has put a major strain on the country’s healthcare system, and nursing facilities have done very little (if anything) to address this issue. In recent years, a growing number of facilities have become “for-profit” entities, and far too many of them are putting their economic well-being ahead of the residents and patients they are supposed to serve.

In California, there are approximately 1,250 licensed long-term care nursing facilities. Of those, less than 150 receive top ratings. On the other hand, lawmakers recently revealed a long list of troubled nursing homes, dozens of which are located in the Golden State.

Nursing home abuse is widespread in California, and according to the Department of Justice, the number of complaints of neglect, abuse, and exploitation filed against nursing facilities within the state is twice the national rate. California currently has the largest population of individuals over the age of 60, and the number of residents that are over age 65 is expected to double by 2030. Given these demographic trends, abuse and neglect in nursing homes is likely to be a major problem for the foreseeable future.

How to Protect your Aging Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), as many as 5 million seniors experience some form of abuse in the United States each year. But as bad as that number is, it is likely a very conservative estimate.

The NCOA goes on to say that only about one out of every 14 cases of abuse are ever formally reported to authorities, and it is easy to understand why. Nursing home residents are entirely dependent on their caregivers for almost everything, and many of them fear reprisal (from their caregivers) if they report abuse and nothing is done about it.

It is easy to believe that nursing home abuse is something that happens to other people, but it could not happen to your loved one. Hopefully that is true and your loved one is in a good place. But given the widespread problems with nursing facilities in California and throughout the country, this is not something you can afford to leave to chance.

Here are some of the most important things family members should do to protect their aging loved ones from abuse and neglect in a nursing facility:

Show Up Frequently: Abuse and neglect are most likely to occur against nursing home residents who do not have many visitors. If, on the other hand, you and others in your family show up regularly, caregivers will realize this and usually make a concerted effort to provide the care your loved one deserves. Create a regular visiting schedule and involve as many family members as possible. In addition, try to throw in some irregular visits just to keep the staff guessing and help ensure that they are always on their best behavior.

Get to Know your Loved One’s Caregiver(s): When you come in to visit, take the time to get to know those who are looking after your loved one. Also ask to meet the supervisors and directors of the facility. Discuss your loved one’s care plan in detail and ask pointed questions of the staff. This level of engagement shows the staff and management that you are concerned about your loved one’s well-being and committed to making sure they are well cared for.

Pay Close Attention to their Living Conditions: As you visit, note the conditions your loved one is living in, as well as their physical and emotional condition. Look for any signs that something may not be the right, like poor hygiene, bedsores, cuts, bruises, and unexplained falls and fractures. Pay special attention to how caregivers answer questions about issues you raise. If their answers are hostile, dismissive, or defensive, then this is a definite sign that you may need to take further actions to protect your loved one.

Consider Installing a Hidden Camera: If you suspect there might be some neglect or abuse happening, but you are not totally certain, one way to confirm your suspicion is to put a hidden camera in their room. The California Department of Social Services allows hidden cameras in nursing homes as long as the patient and the family members involved in their care agree to it.

Take Immediate Action if Abuse or Neglect is Occurring: If you reach the point where you are relatively sure your loved one is being abused, then it is time to take swift action and report it to authorities. You can file a complaint with the California Department of Health online or by calling (916) 492-8232. And if your loved one is in immediate danger and/or this is an emergency, call 911. Finally, get in touch with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss the legal aspects of your case and the potential to recover damages against those who have perpetrated these egregious actions or knowingly allowed them to take place.

Contact Garmo & Garmo LLP for a Free Consultation

If the nursing facility that abused your loved one is located in San Diego, El Cajon, or anywhere in Southern California, call Garmo and Garmo, LLP today at 619-441-2500 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!

Nursing Home Abuse attorney in el cajon

Three Commonly Missed Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

There is a major crisis in America’s nursing homes, and things are unlikely to get any better in the near future. Aging demographics, industry consolidation, and other factors have led to a major shortage of qualified staff within many nursing facilities. This has created a situation where many of the elderly who live in these facilities are neglected or abused.

An ABC News report from the early 2000s found that elder abuse occurs at approximately one out of every three nursing homes in the United States. Things have gotten far worse in the last two decades since that report originally came out. More than three million Americans live in nursing homes today, and one out of every three report having been abused. A staggering 95% also report having seen other residents being abused.

As shocking as the statistics are, these are most likely very conservative estimates. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) says that only one out of every 14 cases of elder abuse ever gets reported. It is easy to understand why so few victims report nursing home abuse. Residents depend on their caregivers for even their most basic needs, and they are often intimidated into not saying anything, because they believe that if they speak up, things will get worse.

Patients might also feel like no one is going to believe them, because they are aging, and their memory is not as good as it used to be. This is especially true among Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Many abusers feel like they can get away with even the most egregious acts, because if their patients speak up, they can just discredit their story because of their condition.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

It is beyond frustrating to think that a facility you entrusted to care for your aging loved one during their golden years has violated that trust. But how would you know? With so few patients willing to speak up, it is incumbent upon family members to be proactive and look for signs that abuse may be occurring.

There are several signs to look for that may be an indication of abuse:

  • Physical Signs: Unexplained physical injuries, bed sores and other conditions that go untreated, frequent visits to the doctor or emergency room.
  • Emotional Signs: Fear, anxiety, agitation, depression, etc.
  • Poor Living Conditions: Poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions in their living area, etc.
  • Poor Nutrition: Malnutrition, dehydration, etc.
  • Facility Staffing Problems: Staffing shortages, high staff turnover, disorganized staff, etc.

Some signs of elder abuse are fairly clear, but others are more difficult to detect.  Here are three commonly missed signs of nursing home abuse:

Slick and Evasive Answers from Staff

If you are having trouble getting a straight answer from one of your aging loved one’s caregivers, this may be cause for concern. For example, your loved one falls down three times within a couple weeks, or they make two trips to the emergency room within a week. You ask what happened, and the caregiver explains it away by saying something like “this is what happens to people as they get older”. General, vague, and dismissive answers can be a sign that something is being covered up, or it could just mean that the caregiver is not sure exactly what happened either, because they were not on duty at the time or whatever. Either way, if staff members are not clearly answering your questions, this is a red flag that could indicate that something is wrong.

A Patient Becoming Confused or Disoriented

When an elderly individual is subjected to abuse, it can take a major physical, mental, and emotional toll on them. Physical and mental exhaustion can cause them to become increasingly disoriented and confused. Confusion and disorientation might also be a sign of deteriorating health, so you will need to look into it further to find out the exact reason this is happening to your loved one.

Emotional Withdrawal

Another potential sign of nursing home abuse is a patient becoming withdrawn and ambivalent about what is happening around them. If someone is in a horrible situation where they are being abused and they feel like there is no hope of anything changing, they often stop caring about anything and start to withdraw. Now, there could be other reasons for this behavior as well.  Many nursing home patients are not happy with their surroundings, and they wish they could go home. But because of their health or other circumstances, they feel like they are stuck in the facility for the rest of their life. This also could create emotional withdrawal.

Has your Loved One Been a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?

If you believe your aging loved one has suffered neglect or abuse in a California nursing facility, you may file a complaint with the Licensing and Servicing division of the California Dept of Public Health, or with the Department of Social Services. Once you have lodged a complaint, speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

At Garmo and Garmo, we are outraged by the treatment many of our seniors receive in California nursing homes. We have successfully represented countless nursing home abuse victims in San Diego, El Cajon, and throughout Southern California, and we are ready to go to work for you. Call us today at 619-441-2500 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.