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Albuquerque New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse Law Blog

Violence can endanger the lives of nursing home residents

If you have a parent living in a nursing home, you may feel anxious about his or her well-being. It is normal to be concerned about your parents’ happiness and comfort when they are no longer independent and must rely on someone to care for them, especially when they are approaching their final days. As we at the Harvey & Foote Law Firm know, New Mexico residents should also be aware that some nursing home staff members do not have their residents’ best interests in mind.

In previous posts in this blog, we have discussed unintentional forms of nursing home abuse or neglect, such as when a member of staff forgets to give your loved one a necessary medication, allows a bedsore to develop or fails to safeguard the rooms of residents who are at risk of falls. It is also important to understand that some instances of nursing home abuse are intentional. FindLaw explains that some caregivers are deliberately malicious or abusive. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice claims that about one out of 10 senior citizens are abused each year. Intentional acts of nursing home abuse can range from emotional and verbal abuse – in which caregivers may threaten, yell at, insult or taunt your loved one – to sexual assault and violent attacks.

Pursuing a pressure sore injury claim

Pressure sores, or bedsores, are common injuries often caused by negligent care of patients. In negligence cases, it may be possible to pursue justice.

If someone does decide to pursue a claim, identifying the severity of the bedsore will be an important part of proving the negligence claim and determining damages. There are a few key facts to understand about pressure sores.

Recognizing psychological abuse in nursing homes

Many New Mexico residents may be aware of the financial and physical abuse that sometimes occurs in nursing homes. However, psychological elder abuse is a serious problem that is often difficult to recognize and easy to ignore. While the signs of psychological abuse may not be as obvious as those of physical abuse, there are often severe long-term consequences. Nursing home residents, employees and family members may be able to reduce the risk of ongoing abuse when they are able to recognize common signs.

According to Psychology Today, elder abuse may occur in several different forms: physical, financial, sexual and emotional. Psychological or emotional abusers may cause trauma or distress through non-physical means. In many cases, there is verbal abuse that degrades or threatens the victim through name-calling, yelling and/or swearing. Psychological abuse may also include nonverbal aspects, such as using intimidating body language, withdrawing affection or isolating the victim from others. Victims of psychological abuse may show signs including fear, sadness, anxiety and agitation.

Should security cameras be installed in nursing home rooms?

When you put your elderly family friend or loved one in a nursing home, you may do your research to find a facility that you feel is safe. Yet, an alarming number of elderly nursing home residents are victims of some form of nursing home abuse. At least 1 in 10 senior citizens over the age of 60, have been victimized by elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging. The numbers are thought to be much higher, however, as many cases go unreported. In order to protect your loved one from such abuse, you may want to install a security camera in his or her room. There are ethical and privacy concerns with doing so. 

When a security camera is installed in an elderly resident’s room, they no longer have certain privacies. The cameras may catch the patient changing clothes, sleeping, having a bath or performing another type of task that puts them in a vulnerable state. Furthermore, when patients talk to nurses or even visitors, their conversations are no longer private as they are caught on the camera. Security cameras can ensure that caregivers are giving the patient the level of care he or she deserves. 

Dementia: Higher risk for abuse in nursing homes?

As your friends and loved ones age, you may be forced to consider putting them in a long-term care facility or nursing home to ensure they have constant access to medical personnel. This is especially true if your elderly loved one is one of the five million people in the United States currently suffering from dementia. Dementia is a progressive brain disease, that causes loss of memory, confusion, disorientation and affects peoples’ ability to communicate, problem-solve, focus and complete everyday tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of this disorder caused by plaque build-up in the brain. Sadly, people who have this disorder may be targeted as abuse victims in nursing home facilities because of their inability to communicate and defend themselves against their attackers. 

In many facilities, residents that suffer from dementia are placed in units where they can receive more personalized attention and care. The effects of dementia cause these patients to be at greater risk for falls and when neglected, patients may get bed sores. Patients with dementia are often difficult to care for, which may frustrate some caretakers who are made to attend to patients everyday. Unfortunately, nursing home workers may take out their frustrations on these disabled residents and abuse may occur. 

How do bedsores form?

New Mexico residents like you trust in the care facilities watching over your loved ones to do a good job. Unfortunately, neglect is an issue in the care industry and you may run into it yourself someday. Today, we'll take a look at one possible sign of neglect: bedsores.

How are bedsores formed, exactly? Mayo Clinic states that these pressure ulcers are the result of prolonged pressure on the skin. As the name implies, one of the most common ways to get bedsores is if you spend an extended amount of time on bedrest. These injuries are therefore most often seen on victims of accidents or illnesses, people with medical conditions who cause them to spend much of their time sitting or laying down, or on the elderly. They most often appear on the bony areas of the body, such as over the heels, hips, ankles, and tailbone.

Nursing home abuse and TBIs

At the Harvey & Foote Law Firm in New Mexico, we represent numerous people who have received serious injuries as the result of nursing home abuse and neglect. We therefore realize that nursing home residents, especially elderly ones, face a high risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury if and when they fall.

Should your parent live in a nursing home due to his or her deteriorating health, you need to know that, as reported by Academic Life in Emergency Medicine, falls represent the number one reason why your loved one could sustain a TBI, a serious head injury that causes his or her brain to violently jerk back and forth within his or her skull. Such violent motion, in turn, injures the brain’s delicate nerves and tissues, resulting in its beginning to malfunction in some manner.

Building a strong nursing abuse claim

As loved ones age, they require more care. When you turn to an adult care facility to provide that care, you expect them to uphold the standard of care your loved one deserves.

Unfortunately, some care facilities or caregivers do quite the opposite. Thankfully, it may be possible to file a nursing home abuse claim. To build a strong case, your claim must include a few key elements.

What should you look for in an elderly foster home?

Foster care homes for the elderly, also known as small group homes, allow New Mexico seniors to reside in a home with a smaller number of residents than a nursing home while receiving more specialized care. As Chron.com explains, in order to properly set up and operate an elderly foster care home, there are certain requirements the home must meet, such as licensing and personnel. So if you are viewing a group home as an option for an elderly loved one, here are some things to look out for.

To be admitted into a group home, a prospective resident or the family member has to sign a contract. The contract describes the kind of care the home will provide the new resident with. Since residents have varying needs, it is important that the contract spell out the right kind of care for your loved one. The contract also ensures that the terms are legal and that all parties involved enjoy legal protections.

New Mexico nursing homes sued for abuse

It is heartbreaking to discover your loved one is not being treated with the dignity and respect he or she deserves while in the care of a nursing home. At the Harvey & Foote Law Firm, we have handled many cases in which New Mexico nursing home residents were harmed by the negligent or abusive actions of caregivers.

Nursing home abuse is unfortunately common. Incidents can range from neglect to malicious abuse. While you may understand that abusive caregivers can cause serious injuries to their patients, it is also important to realize that stressed out, overworked caregivers may inadvertently cause harm by simply not giving residents the basic care and attention they need. In some cases, simple neglect can result in death.

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