Protecting Aging Loved Ones from Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect in Georgia
The prospect of caregivers, who are entrusted with the care of our elderly loved ones, committing acts of violence or viciously ignoring the fundamental necessities of hydration and nutrition may seem hard to imagine. Unfortunately, elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout Georgia suffer abuse and neglect far too often. Seniors may even be assaulted or neglected by in-home caretakers hired to come in to the home so that the senior can maintain a high degree of independence. Our Atlanta elder abuse attorneys represent seniors and family members of aging loved ones in seeking financial compensation suffered at the hands of those paid to provide care and assistance to seniors. In this two-part blog article, we have provided an overview of the scope of the problem and suggestions for protecting your loved one from nursing elder abuse and nursing home neglect.
Elder abuse is a serious problem that includes action or inaction by caregivers with a duty to provide care that results in harm or creates a serious risk of harm for seniors. The mistreatment of elders includes physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse, as well as the neglect of a senior’s basic needs by someone in a trust relationship to the senior, such as nursing home staff or other caregivers.
There is a substantial amount of evidence that supports the proposition that many elder care facilities are the location of systemic abuse of elderly residents. One study of 2,000 nursing homes in the U.S. found that almost 45 percent of residents in nursing homes had been abused while 95 percent indicated that they had witnessed the abuse of an elderly resident. Although nursing home facilities generally are subject to regulation by state and/or federal agencies, studies have concluded that a significant amount of elder abuse in skilled nursing facilities goes undetected. A General Accountability Office review revealed that many state inspections commonly miss violations of regulations relating to the care and safety of residents. According to the report, seventy percent of state surveys fail to detect at least one regulatory violation while fifteen percent of the surveys do not detect actual harm or acts and conditions that pose immediate peril to nursing home residents.
Given the serious risk of potential mistreatment of an elderly loved one in a skilled nursing facility or other elder care residential housing, we have provided some suggestions that loved ones may wish to consider when devising strategies to protect their loved ones:
Discuss the Quality of Care Confidentially: Many elderly nursing home residents may be afraid to disclose abuse by nursing aids or others in a nursing home because they fear reprisal. One study by the National Research Council found that only 0.07 percent of incidents involving mistreatment of residents in nursing homes are ever reported to authorities. When visiting a loved one, the elderly resident may feel more comfortable disclosing improper care or abuse away from potential perpetrators. If the family member seems apprehensive or fearful about discussing the quality of care, you may want to investigate further.
Family members may wish to conduct a thorough investigation before selecting a place to live for their aging loved one. When investigating a nursing home facility, it may be advisable to conduct several physical walkthroughs of the facility with at least one or two unannounced visits being on different days/times. This will provide an opportunity for you to see the facility staffing levels and responsiveness of caregivers at random times. While it may be obvious that a facility that appears unsanitary or reeks of urine, feces or vomit should probably be viewed skeptically, nice facilities that appear to be clean and state-of-the-art can hide hidden dangers. Because insufficient staffing is the leading cause of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, family members may wish to pay particular attention to the number of staff members as well as the promptness and efficiency of staff when responding to requests for assistance from elderly residents.
An effective pre-placement investigation also might include interviewing the administrator about hiring practices and background checks, minimum and average staffing levels, procedures to prevent falls, pressure sores, infection or wandering, procedures to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and medication, and other issues related to safety and quality of care. A valuable resource that you may wish to consult is the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison website. This site provides detailed reviews, comparisons and inspection histories for nursing homes that accept Medicare.
Inquire about Unexplained Injuries or Changes in Mood: While there are innocent explanations for bruises, dislocations, abrasions, broken bones or depression, any injuries or sudden changes in behavior or mood by a senior merit closer examination. While it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of such injuries or changes in personality, especially if an elderly nursing home resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to pay careful attention to these signs.
Confirm Implementation of Safety Protocols: Nursing homes generally are required to implement special procedures for elderly residents who suffer from physical or mental impairments that pose a greater risk of injury. Family members should inquire about such special procedures if a love one has limited mobility, or an aging family member is prone to falls or wandering. The administrator usually will outline such special safety precautions during the intake process. It may be advisable for family members to follow-up regarding these special procedures to ensure they are actually implemented.
If your aging parent, grandparent or other loved one has been the victim of elder abuse by a caregiver or in a nursing home, our Georgia nursing home abuse attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
Open: 24 hours, 7 Days a Week