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Albuquerque New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse Law Blog

The impacts of elder abuse and neglect

If you have an aging relative in New Mexico who needs more care than you can adequately provide to them at home, you might end up making the decision to move them into a facility where they can receive the support they need. By design, nursing homes should be places where elderly persons can be safe and cared for in a dignified and compassionate manner. Sadly, these facilities can at times be the very places in which people experience serious abuse or neglect.

As explained by the National Council on Elder Abuse, neglect or abuse of elderly people may take many forms and present a variety of consequences for residents and their family members. Psychological changes can be evident when a person experiences physical, emotional or mental abuse. The victim might become withdrawn, depressed or moody in ways that are unusual for them.

What does neglect look like in a nursing home?

Many residents of New Mexico are just like you, having to make the tough decision of putting a loved one in a nursing home. You trust that they will be taken care of and that their needs will be met. However, that isn't always the case.

FindLaw takes a look at both abuse and neglect in a nursing home. Today we'll focus on neglect, which differs in several ways from what is typically considered abuse. While abuse is the active mistreatment in verbal, emotional or physical ways of the residents at an establishment, neglect can be harder to pin down.

New Mexico ranks at the bottom for nursing home quality

When you drop loved ones off at a nursing home, you trust they will receive the best of care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is a reality, and nowhere is that more evident than right here in New Mexico. 

In 2018, a new report revealed that New Mexico had the highest rate of nursing home abuse incidents out of every other state in the nation. Over the course of several years, residents reported 2,217 cases of neglect and abuse. Out of that number, 115 infractions received a score of J, K or L. Within the nursing home industry, cases of negligence receive grades on an A to L scale, with L being the lowest. Therefore, residents of New Mexico with loved ones living in a nursing home need to remain particularly vigilant to ensure these seniors receive the best care. 

Can staying connected protect your loved one from abuse?

When your loved one must go to live in a New Mexico nursing home, it is a huge change for everyone involved. You probably believe that this move is the best thing for your loved one. It will keep him or her safer and ensure he or she gets the care needed. However, nursing home abuse is a problem of which you must be aware. One way you might be able to help ensure your loved one does not become a victim of abuse, according to the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect, is to stay connected.

Staying connected just means staying active in your loved one's life. Check in often. Call and talk to him or her every single day. Be involved in his or her care decisions. Make sure you get to know the people who care for your loved one on a daily basis. Do not be afraid to ask questions. These actions can help deter abusers and also enable your loved one to feel as if he or she can speak up if something does occur.

Why are nursing home deaths kept so quiet?

If you have a loved one in a nursing home in New Mexico, his or her well-being is probably a top priority. You may check in often and ensure he or she is treated well. You may also take joy in finding that your loved one is making friends and developing a support system within the nursing home of other residents. However, you may have run across a time when your loved one has lost a friend due to death. It might surprise you to learn nobody shared the details with the other residents or even made an announcement of the death. This is because deaths are usually handled very quietly and in secret.

According to Stat News, when a resident dies, nursing home staff usually remove the body late at night or early in the morning without letting the other residents know. They may not even tell the other residents the person died. A common response to questions is that the information is confidential or private. Residents wonder what happened because nobody told them anything.

Falls the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults

When you leave your loved one in a New Mexico nursing home, you want to feel confident that someone is looking out for him or her and making efforts to reduce any hazards that could potentially lead to injury. Regrettably, however, today’s older Americans are falling and injuring themselves at alarming rates, and many residents who suffer serious falls live in nursing home or assisted living facility environments. At the Harvey & Foote Law Firm, we understand that when older people fall, serious injuries often result, and we have helped many people who suffered injury or hardship because of nursing home negligence pursue appropriate recourse.

The National Council on Aging reports that falls have become so common among older Americans that they are now the leading cause of fatal injury and hospital admissions for adults ages 65 and older. Furthermore, an older American dies because of a fall every 19 minutes in America, accounting for more than 27,000 deaths each year.

How common is nursing home abuse?

For many people in New Mexico, the idea of abusing the elderly is unthinkable. Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that these offenses take place relatively often in the state. There are several factors, one of which being the preponderance of local retirement communities.

Another thing you might want to consider is that not all abuse is physical or mental. These reprehensible acts do occur, of course, but unethical nursing home staff members are also likely to take advantage of residents financially. This type of misconduct could take many forms, and you might not notice the subtle signs until it is too late.

Common safety violations in assisted living facilities

Assisted-living facilities are notorious for the neglect of their elderly patients. Numerous stories have come to light about the blatant mistreatment of senior citizens in American institutions. These reports naturally may have you worried about the well-being of your parent. On the other hand, perhaps you believe your loved one is safe because nothing as severe as outright physical abuse has occurred.

However, there are additional dangers your parent may face. These less noticeable risks have just as much impact on the safety and care of your aging loved one. Find out if the facility responsible for your mother or father is committing one of these common violations.

How do nursing homes get licensed?

If you are looking into nursing homes for yourself or a loved one, you will start to see that these facilities are licensed by the state. A nursing home license helps ensure the facility has the ability to properly care for residents. A facility must meet certain requirements and provide specific documentation to show it qualifies for the license, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Getting a license begins with an application. The facility requests this application by submitting a letter of intent that provides the mailing address. The application must be completed and submitted with a fee.

84-year-old nursing home resident allegedly raped

Nursing homes should be safe places for New Mexico citizens who can no longer care for themselves due to age or infirmity. However, with approximately one-third of nursing homes cited for abuse and neglect, mistreatment of nursing home residents, including sexual assault, is a growing problem. 

The family of an 84-year-old woman, who is a resident of a nursing home in Ferguson, Missouri, is suing the nursing home's owners for failing to prevent a series of alleged sexual assaults against the woman. Medical personnel who performed the rape kit claim that the woman appeared to have been repeatedly raped over a period of several weeks. Authorities have investigated a fellow resident but have not filed charges pending lab results from the rape kit.

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