Alzheimers Negligence and Nursing Homes

With many members of the baby boom generation approaching age 65 and beyond, the specter of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) becomes more real for this vast demographic group. Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia that affects about 15% of those who are 65 or over with the incidence increasing to 50% of those who are 85 and over. AD is a loss of cognitive abilities with the more severe cases requiring the victim to be constantly monitored since self-care is all but impossible.

Once an elderly relative shows signs of Alzheimer’s or requires assistance with daily living activities, he or she may be sent to live at an assisted care center or nursing home since home care can be overwhelming. Once admitted, we expect the facility to treat our loved ones with the care and attention they deserve. Unfortunately, the majority of nursing home facilities in this country have been found to be negligent in some aspects of their operations, with the most common problem being understaffed and untrained personnel whose negligent care can result in serious injuries to elderly residents.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

As we age, we begin to notice physical and mental changes. Although we expect the diminishing physical abilities, the mental problems are the more alarming. While we may have a “senior” moment when we forget what we were looking for or cannot recall a certain event, when these become more frequent and are associated with other symptoms, then medical intervention may be necessary. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Deep depression
  • Severe mood swings
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Loss of ability to perform routine activities
  • Long term memory loss
  • Inability to recall recent events
  • Confusion

A brain scan can also detect certain changes that are indicative of this progressive condition that has no cure.

The Abuse of Alzheimer’s Residents

Alzheimer’s patients are especially susceptible to abuse from caretakers since they often do not recall the abuse, are unable to defend themselves and may not recall who was responsible. Communicating the abusive conduct to you or others may not be possible for some or the patient may not be believed. In any situation where your relative with AD is being cared for by a caretaker or at a facility, you should be aware that abusive practices are not uncommon. Some of the objective signs of possible abuse include:

  • Cuts, bruises and bedsores
  • Broken limbs
  • Bruising in the genital areas
  • Loss of weight
  • Increasingly withdrawn behavior
  • Dehydration and loss of appetite
  • Rapid onset of medical conditions not previously suffered
  • Unusual financial activity in resident’s account
  • Inaccurate record documentation

Holding Nursing Homes Responsible

Nursing homes have a duty of care to your loved one and must follow protocols and other regulations when caring for its residents. This includes having a health or care plan in place, ensuring that special care is devoted to residents who require it, following a doctor’s order for medications and treatment, providing reasonable accommodations and maintaining a safe and clean environment. Of course, mistreatment of residents that leads to serious injuries or compromises a resident’s health can lead to criminal charges as well as civil suits.

Your nursing home abuse attorney is instrumental in holding a nursing home civilly liable whenever a staff member abuses your loved one or commits fraud. Your attorney can gather the necessary records, help instigate an investigation, interview or depose other residents or staff, and obtain medical and nursing home experts to demonstrate the facility’s failure to follow regulations or adhere to standards of care that led to your loved one suffering a serious medical complication. If you suspect or have evidence of abuse by a nursing home facility, promptly contact Paul Tetzel an elderly care attorney to discuss you legal options.