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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.

tbi attorney in el cajon

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury resulting from a severe bump, blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to become displaced. Not everyone who is struck in the head ends up with TBI, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 2.8 million emergency room visits each year are attributable to this condition. The CDC also says that TBI contributes to the deaths of over 50,000 individuals each year, and 90,000 individuals experience the onset of a TBI-related disability.

TBI manifests itself differently in each individual case. The milder forms, commonly known as concussions, may last only a few days or more. The most severe forms can last years or even become permanent conditions. Those affected by TBI typically experience a number of different symptoms, these may include:

  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Severe and ongoing headaches;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Dizziness or loss of balance;  
  • Difficulty with speech;
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration;
  • Memory loss;
  • Drowsiness and fatigue;
  • Sleeping more than usual;
  • Mood changes or mood swings;
  • Depression and anxiety.

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

For those who suffer from more severe forms of TBI, there is a long road to recovery. During this time, they will need to make adjustments to help cope with their “new normal.”  It will not always be easy, but there are ways to make dealing with a traumatic brain injury less stressful:

Follow Doctor’s Orders

As mentioned earlier, TBI tends to manifest itself differently with each case. This makes the path to recovery far less predictable. For this reason, it is extremely important to listen to your doctor and follow all of your doctor’s advice. For example, check with your doctor before resuming important activities such as driving, exercising, and returning to work. It is also very likely that your doctor will tell you to refrain from using alcohol or tobacco. Understand that this is not being done to punish you, but to help with your recovery. Alcohol and tobacco have been shown to hinder the progress of recovery for TBI sufferers, and it is best to avoid these substances if at all possible.

Establish an Organized and Simplified Routine

Do everything possible to simplify your daily habits and make it easier to follow your routine. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as:

  • Get up at the same time each day;
  • Perform hygiene tasks in the same order;
  • Eat meals at scheduled times each day;
  • Keep items in the same location;
  • Put labels on items for easy identification;
  • Use a daily checklist to help stay on track;
  • Take advantage of the numerous apps available to plan your day and track your activities.

Keep a Journal

Journaling not only helps you keep track of what has happened each day, it has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and lower the likelihood of becoming depressed. A journal can be used in whatever way suits the individual. For example, if you only want to write down a few of your thoughts during the day, that’s fine. Or, if you prefer to record a more detailed account of how your day went, that’s great too. By having a journal, you are able to read through previous entries to identify common issues that come up and focus on ways to effectively deal with them. You might also choose to share your journal with your doctor or counselor to help gain additional insights.

Get your Family and Friends Involved

When you are going through TBI, you need a support network of family and friends that are there to help you through this difficult time. You may need to rely on your immediate family for much of the organization of your daily routine. You may also need to educate extended family and friends about your condition, how it impacts you, in what they can do to help.

Obtain Experienced Legal Advice

There are numerous ways that traumatic brain injuries can occur, and many of them happen in accidents that result from the negligence or reckless actions of another party. If you or a loved one is suffering from TBI, it is important to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney, so you understand your legal rights and options. If another party was at fault for your injury, you have a right to compensation; which may include reimbursement for medical costs, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

At Garmo and Garmo, we have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered from TBI and other types of personal injury in San Diego, El Cajon, and throughout Southern California. If you are in this area, 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.