DSC_0761-300x199Residents of Carlsbad who have an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility nearby, or who are currently exploring facilities for a loved one, should know about the risks of elder mistreatment and nursing home abuse. Every year, organizations in California and throughout the country take steps to address the continuing high rates of elder abuse, yet seniors continue to suffer preventable injuries as a result of abuse and neglect.

At the start of 2019, two new elder mistreatment prevention initiatives aim to take different approaches to the problem. We want to discuss these new efforts to detect elder abuse in emergency departments.

Elder Abuse as a Social Justice Issue

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

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207Many families with elderly loved ones in nursing homes in Oceanside know about the risks of overmedication, particularly in dementia patients. For example, an article in U.S. News & World Report discussed the continuing epidemic of overmedicating dementia patients with antipsychotic drugs, reporting that more than 179,000 patients receive drugs every week that are “not appropriate for their condition.” Many of these medications are prescribed because of their “sedating side effects,” used to keep seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia “easier for overworked nursing home staff,” according to the article. Yet it is not antipsychotic drugs that are on the minds of many Americans who are concerned about overmedication or misuses of prescription drugs. This category has become reserved for opioids and news of preventable overdoses. What role do opioids play in the nursing home setting?

According to a recent report in the Washington Post, seniors are also grappling with the opioid epidemic, and many older adults are at risk of serious injury as a result of using these drugs.

Opioid Abuse on the Rise Among Older Adults

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200Elderly residents of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in San Clemente and throughout California could lose important federal protections against nursing home abuse and neglect, according to a recent article in Lake County News. However, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is working to prevent this from happening. As the article explains, “Becerra has led a coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia in submitting a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).” The letter “condemn[s] federal actions that would delay the enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities.”

In 2016, regulatory reforms resulted in improved “protections against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.” During the June rule-making period, Becerra and other attorneys general have “grave concerns” that the federal government will “revisit requirements deemed to be burdensome for facilities.” In other words, Becerra and others expect that CMS will change the way it deals with protections for seniors in SNFs, allowing facilities to be less burdened by regulations, thereby jeopardizing the health and safety of the patients at these facilities.

Revisiting the Long-Term Care Reforms of 2016

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

jeremy-wong-298986-copy-300x200Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and most of us expect it to be physical abuse or neglect. However, a common form of nursing home abuse is elder emotional or psychological abuse. It is important for family members and loved ones of elderly nursing home patients to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse. As a recent article in the Post-Examiner explains, emotional or psychological abuse is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to recognize because it “leaves no physical signs and can be hard to detect.” What should you know about emotional elder abuse, and what are some of the ways to spot it?

What is Emotional or Psychological Elder Abuse?

According to the article, emotional or psychological abuse is defined as “the infliction of mental suffering, anguish, pain, or distress on a nursing home resident either by words, actions, or even inaction.” Emotional elder abuse changes the way an elderly person feels and thinks, and there are rarely obvious physical signs. An article from WebMD defines emotional or psychological abuse similarly, explaining that it can be “any action that hurts a person emotionally.” The article further clarifies that emotional abuse can happen when an individual threatens a senior, yells at a senior, calls a senior names, talks down to a senior, repeatedly ignores a senior; or controls whom the senior can see and where the senior can go.

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

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207In Poway and elsewhere in the state of California, elderly residents of nursing homes are facing unfair evictions and what has been termed “patient dumping.” In many cases, these evictions may amount to nursing home abuse or neglect. According to a press release from the organization, the AARP Foundation filed a lawsuit against a facility in Northern California after it unlawfully evicted an 83-year-old patient. The lawsuit emphasizes the growing problem of illegal nursing home evictions in California and across the country, and it also offers an opportunity for families to think carefully about the type of skilled nursing facility that is providing the care for an elderly family member.

Lawsuit Alleges Illegal Eviction of Nursing Home Resident

The AARP Foundation explains that the resident at the center of the lawsuit, Gloria Single, had been residing at Pioneer House in the Sacramento area until she was evicted in March of last year. Single suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and she requires particular care in a skilled nursing facility. The lawsuit alleges that Pioneer House, the RHF Foundation, and corporate affiliates are responsible for “illegally dump[ing]” Single at a hospital, which meant that the defendants “willfully violat[ed] a State order requiring that they allow her to return home.”

james-williams-502481-unsplash-copy-300x225Is the state of California doing enough to penalize skilled nursing facilities in Escondido and throughout North County that are putting their patients’ health and safety at risk? According to a recent article from California Health Report, the California State Auditor issued a report declaring that “California’s skilled nursing facilities are increasingly putting their residents’ health in jeopardy, yet the state is failing to adequately crack down on the problem.” In other words, patients may be suffering injuries as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, but state agencies are not doing enough to punish and prevent those incidents.

What else should seniors in Southern California and their families know about nursing home abuse and the details of the recent report?

Increase in Substandard Care at California Skilled Nursing Facilities

sergey-zolkin-21232-unsplash-copy-300x200In San Marcos and throughout San Diego County, new plans are being developed to combat elder abuse and to make Southern California a safer place for seniors. According to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report, San Diego County has long been named as a desirable place to live and a great location to take a family vacation. Recently, the area’s “above-average score in public safety” meant that it made the U.S. News & World Report ranking of “America’s Top 500 Healthiest Communities” out of more than 3,000 nationwide. That ranking means that, on average, San Diego County residents are among the healthiest—and happiest—in the country. In fact, the San Diego metro area is growing yet remains one of the safest in the U.S. But does the same hold true for elderly residents of San Marcos and other parts of North County?

According to the article, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is working on a “blueprint” to help stop, prosecute, and eventually prevent nursing home abuse and elder neglect in the area.

District Attorney’s Office Focuses on Senior Safety Concerns