Obesity is a major problem in our society. An obese person is one whose body mass index (BMI) is 30%. Your BMI is a measure of body fat and is based on your weight and height. Generally, the normal range for both sexes is between 18.5% and 24.9%.
To give an idea of how pervasive the problem is, 46 states have obesity rates of 25% of its overall residents, with 25 states reporting rates approaching 30%. West Virginia had the highest rate at 37.7%. Causes of obesity range from poor diet, lack of sustained exercise if any, injuries that impede mobility, and chronic medical issues. As any older person can attest to, as you get older, the more difficult it is to lose body fat since you lack the flexibility and mobility of youth and have a much slower metabolism.
Obesity is also a growing concern for nursing homes where increasing numbers of baby boomers are becoming residents. If you are obese, you are highly likely to have a number of physical problems such as osteoarthritis (66% of obese persons suffer from this), type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer. Women are more likely to be obese than men and because their life expectancies are longer than men, female nursing home residents typically outnumber males. For every 100 male residents aged 75-84, there are 150 women. The disparity increases as residents get older.
The number of obese residents in nursing home care is also rising. Between 2005 and 2015, the rate jumped from 22% to 28%. Also, women have an obesity rate that is 7% higher than males.
Strain on Nursing Homes
All nursing home residents have a right to be safe and to receive appropriate care. This becomes more difficult when an obese resident has difficulty with mobility and other issues and requires a staff trained and equipped to deal with residents requiring special care such as obesity For instance, the home will likely need:
- Large wheelchairs
- Motorized lifts
- Wider beds
- Larger blood pressure cuffs
- Larger bedside commodes
- Longer syringes to penetrate body fat
- Larger bathtubs
- Wider door openings
Even though many nursing homes have obese residents, they have to deal with the cost of procuring special beds, wheelchairs, lifts and other devices since Medicaid does not cover the cost of specialized equipment. Such homes will pass the cost onto residents.
Nursing home staff will also need to be physically fit to lift obese patients who will likely need to moved in their beds more often then lighter residents to avoid bedsores. If motorized lifts are unavailable, staff will have to move residents manually, which puts a strain on them and can lead to workplace injuries.
Obese seniors may also face difficulty in finding a nursing home facility that will accept and accommodate their special needs. Someone with an obesity condition may have to go through dozens of referrals before being accepted. And if they are, family members should investigate the home to see if special devices are available to assist the resident and staff.
If you have a loved one who was injured in a nursing home because the staff was ill-trained or equipped to handle him or her, or neglected to provide a safe environment, call a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Liability of Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are under state and federal regulations regarding staffing, medical care, safety, and other obligations. There are few nursing homes that have not been cited for some violation with the most prevalent infractions in the following order, according to Pro Publica:
- Accident hazards
- Lack of infection control programs
- Not providing necessary care
- Food provided under unsanitary conditions
- Failure to develop or adhere to comprehensive medical care plans
- Employing untrained or unqualified staff
- Failure to properly administer drugs
When an obese resident is involved, the staff and facility has the duty and obligation to tailor the facility to accommodate their needs. When they fail to do so and a resident suffers an injury or a fatal accident as a result, then the facility is to be held liable.
Damages in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Your loved one is entitled to damages if the nursing home facility and its staff was negligent in its care. Damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Diminished quality of life
Proving damages can sometimes be difficult and you will need proper documentation and testimony. Having an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in your corner is essential in these types of cases.
Retain Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Paul Tetzel
When a loved one needlessly suffers in a nursing home under any conditions, it is essential that you take action so that your parent or other relative receives the necessary compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and emotional trauma. It also puts the nursing home facility on notice to change its practices or its continued actions will only lead to other lawsuits and fines and possible loss of certification.
To get the most compensation for your loved one, call Paul Tetzel at Tetzel Law at (617) 933-3858 for a free consultation.