Articles Posted in Elder Care

brandon-holmes-199535-unsplash-copy-300x200The primary way that state and federal agencies keep track of nursing home and elder abuse rates in the U.S. is through reporting. In other words, healthcare workers, physicians, nursing home staff, and others who interact with seniors are supposed to report incidents of nursing home abuse or neglect to enforcement agencies. However, according to a recent article in NPR, despite the fact that this kind of reporting is required by law, there is substantial underreporting.

This information comes from a recent report published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which indicates that “in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies.” Why does underreporting happen, and what steps can lead to more effective reporting?

Reporting Elder Abuse After Patients Receive Care in Emergency Room

daniele-levis-pelusi-9BObZ4pzn3Y-unsplash-copy-300x225When a patient in an Escondido nursing home suffers serious illness or injury as a result of a “superbug,” is nursing home negligence to blame? In other words, if a facility fails to take proper precautions to prevent nursing home patients from contracting “superbugs,” or medication-resistant bacteria and fungi, can that facility be held responsible for nursing home neglect? That is a question that elder safety advocates have begun asking in the wake of news about superbugs causing serious and fatal injuries in hospitals and nursing homes across the country. 

How Nursing Homes are Grappling with Superbugs

According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, hospitals and nursing homes in California have begun using a strategy that might strike readers as bizarre at first: The facilities have started “washing patients with a special soap.” Along with facilities in Illinois, California nursing homes and hospitals are among the first to begin using this strategy, funded by about $8 million in total from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In all, about 50 facilities in both California and Illinois are employing this new procedure.

victor-garcia-718191-unsplash-copy-200x300Discussions about the use of cameras in nursing homes in Orange County and throughout Southern California have become common as lawmakers, safety advocates, and family members seek innovative solutions to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect and to gain evidence to hold perpetrators accountable. Yet, are cameras in residents’ rooms the best way to stop nursing home abuse, or are there significant ethical issues that we need to consider before we decide that the benefits of “granny cams,” as these cameras are commonly called, outweigh their limitations? 

A recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News addresses the ethics of “granny cams” in nursing homes and suggests that more research needs to be done concerning these tools before they become widespread.

Are Nursing Home Cameras Ethical, or do They Invade Residents’ Privacy?

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191There are many different ways that elder abuse and neglect can happen in Rancho Bernardo, and seniors can suffer from a variety of injuries as a result of nursing home negligence. While we often think about scenarios in which injuries can occur in skilled nursing facilities, should older adults and their families also be thinking more carefully about elder neglect or negligence in hospitals, and what this means for a senior’s long-term health? According to a recent article in The New York Times, many elderly hospital patients end up suffering serious injuries as a result of “post-hospital syndrome.”

What is post-hospital syndrome? In brief, it is tied to hospital readmissions and inadequate care among seniors, according to the article. Who is responsible when elderly patients sustain serious injuries as a result of post-hospital syndrome?

Understanding the Harms of Hospital Readmissions Among Seniors

josh-appel-423804-copy-300x225Whether nursing home patients reside at a skilled nursing facility in Escondido or elsewhere in California, they now have greater protections against elder abuse and neglect. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, a new California state law requires that patients receive a minimum number of hours of care from certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The law took effect on July 1, 2018, but will patients see an immediate change in the way staffing works at nursing homes across the state? Will staffing increases reduce the rates of nursing home neglect in the state?

Staffing Requirements Stricter, But Will Facilities Meet Those Requirements?

Under the new law, what kinds of staffing requirements are required at nursing homes in Escondido and throughout California? As of July 1, facilities must provide each patient with at least 3.5 hours of direct care every day. This number increased from a previous requirement of 3.2 hours of direct patient care per day. But that change is not the most drastic of the shifts in the law. The significant change is that at least 2.4 of these daily hours of direct patient care must be provided by CNAs.

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207One of the most common reasons that seniors sustain serious injuries from nursing home neglect is understaffing. When skilled nursing facilities do not have enough staff members, there are not enough people to provide the necessary care to patients and residents at the facility. Both California state law and federal law require skilled nursing facilities to have a specific staff-to-patient ratio to help ensure that seniors are getting the care they need. However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, many nursing homes across the country have been overstating their staffing numbers in order to be in compliance with state and federal regulations. As a result, patients have been suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect.

Federal Data Shows Inadequate Staffing Levels at Many Nursing Homes

For many years, according to the article, numerous family members of seniors in skilled nursing facilities have worried that staffing levels were insufficient. As it turns out, many of those suspicions and fears have some validity to them. Indeed, “on the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.” Records also showed that there were significant fluctuations in staffing numbers at many facilities from day to day, with some days having adequate staff while others had grossly inadequate staff on hand to meet the needs of the residents.

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200Did you know that a majority of elder abuse cases in Vista and throughout California likely go unreported? According to a report from Calaveras Enterprise, research suggests that “for every case of elder or dependent adult abuse known to agencies, 24 more are unknown.” Crimes against seniors in Southern California more generally are on the rise. The City of San Diego predicts that less than 20% of all incidents of elder abuse and neglect are reported in San Diego County. How can raising community awareness help to increase the rates of nursing home abuse reporting in Vista?

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is Vastly Underreported, but Raising Awareness can Help

In short, elder abuse is underreported. According to a report from Kusi News, reports of violent crimes against older adults in San Diego County rose by about 37% between 2016 and 2017. In each California county, more than 300 reports of suspected elder abuse are logged each year. If we accept that, for every single case reported there are 24 more unreported cases, that fact would mean that there are more than 7,000 incidents of elder abuse each year in San Diego County. Each month in California, the state Adult Protective Services (APS) gets more than 15,000 reports of elder abuse in the state, and the California Association of Area Agencies of Aging indicates that the number of reported abuse incidents is slowly increasing.

jyotirmoy-gupta-443923-unsplash-copy-300x200Falls are a serious problem among elderly residents of Carlsbad nursing homes. For seniors who live at home, a dangerous fall can mean the difference between being able to live independently and requiring daily care at a skilled nursing facility, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Slips and falls, as well as falls from heights, often result in permanent disabilities and sometimes death among elderly patients. As such, it is important for researchers, physicians, and caregivers to continue seeking out new ways of preventing falls in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across Southern California and throughout the country. In some situations, a serious fall may be the result of nursing home neglect or nursing home negligence.

According to a recent public radio report, a small sensor developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University may help to reduce the rate of falls among older adults.

Falls are Common in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

parker-byrd-139348-copy-300x200Can Yelp help Valley Center seniors avoid nursing homes with histories of elder abuse or neglect? Most residents of San Diego County think of Yelp as a crowd-sourced set of reviews for businesses like restaurants or retail establishments. However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, Yelp also might be able to provide helpful information about nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to patients and their families who are looking for places with high ratings.

Given that nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem across Southern California and throughout the state, using an unlikely source such as Yelp to find reviews can not hurt. As the article points out, “gerontologists at the University of Southern California have been looking into Yelp nursing home reviews and think they make a useful addition to the homework any prospective resident or family member needs to undertake.”

Using Crowd-Sourced Information to Choose a Skilled Nursing Facility

andres-de-armas-103880-copy-300x200Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia make seniors in Escondido much more vulnerable to nursing home abuse and neglect. Indeed, as the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation emphasizes in a recent article, one of the most significant ways of stopping elder abuse is finding a way to prevent the elderly from developing Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, the fewer seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the fewer seniors who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

What can we do to prevent dementia? Since researchers have yet to identify a fully effective treatment for this disease, many have turned to preventing it from occurring in the first place. According to a recent article from Harvard Health Publishing, new research suggests that certain medications could contribute to dementia in elderly patients.

Commonly Used Medications Affect Memory and Learning