Dementia and the Risks of Delayed Diagnosis

james-williams-502481-unsplash-copy-300x225Seniors with Dementia at Increased Risk of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Valley Center 

Older adults in Valley Center who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are at greater risk of becoming victims of nursing home abuse or neglect. The connection between dementia and elder abuse has been relatively well-studied, and an article published in the journal Health Affairs underscores the link between dementia and nursing home abuse, especially in situations of emotional abuse. That journal article reported that, after a literature review concerning elder abuse and dementia, the researchers concluded that “many older adults experienced multiple forms of abuse simultaneously, and the risk of mortality from abuse and self-neglect may be higher in older adults with greater levels of cognitive impairment.”

Are nursing home abuse and neglect risks just as high when seniors are not properly diagnosed with dementia, or when there is a delayed diagnosis? In other words, do symptoms of dementia have to be advanced in order for an elderly nursing home resident to be at greater risk of abuse, or are almost all patients with dementia—even in its earlier stages—at more risk of injury? A recent article in WebMD suggests that “many older Americans with dementia don’t know they have the disease.” Are these individuals likely to suffer injuries as a result of elder abuse or neglect?

High Percentage of Seniors Have Undiagnosed Cases of Dementia

According to the article, approximately 60% of Medicare recipients in a recent study who suffer from dementia either were previously undiagnosed or were not aware of their dementia diagnosis. The study looked at 585 different Medicare recipients, and approximately 350 of them suffered from dementia but did not report such a diagnosis. In large part, the seniors who were suffering from dementia but had not been diagnosed were those “who had less than a high school education, who went to medical visits alone, and who had fewer problems with daily tasks.” The information was published in a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Dr. Halima Amjad, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, emphasized that patients who have dementia but have not been diagnosed are more likely to suffer additional medical problems. When a patient with dementia has not been diagnosed, she or he may indeed have cognitive loss but may not be receiving the care that is necessary to stay healthy. Undiagnosed patients also could be at increased risk for nursing home abuse or neglect without their families recognizing that greater risk.

Contact a Valley Center Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

If you have an elderly loved one who suffers from dementia and may have been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should speak with an experienced Valley Center nursing home abuse attorney about your situation. Many seniors may be suffering from dementia and physical or psychological abuse without friends or family members realizing what is happening. An advocate at our firm can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information about how we serve elderly patients and their families in Southern California.

 

See Related Blog Posts:

Consent and Capacity in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Is a New California Nursing Home Website Doing More Harm Than Good?