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Residents’ Rights Month – Time to Highlight Fear in Reporting Elder Abuse

senior woman nursing home

October was Residents’ Rights Month, so designated by The National Consumer Voice in an attempt to bring awareness to the dignity and rights of residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The Pennsylvania Franklin County commissioners took the opportunity to remind people that elder abuse in long-term care facilities is vastly under-reported, a problem exacerbated by the fear of residents to report mis-treatment.

Fear of retribution for reporting elder abuse is widespread

According to a National Elder Abuse Incidence Study from 1998, only about 20 percent of the mistreatment in a nursing home are ever reported, and that 80 percent of those making reports fear pay-back from staff members. More recently, in 2016, an Australian long-term care residents’ advocacy group, Aged Care Crisis, examined the extent and causes of the fear of retribution, noting that it gripped not just residents but employees and families and that this fear prevents an accurate analysis of the prevalence of abuse.

According to Aged Care Crisis:

  • Nursing facility employees fear loss of employment, reduced hours, and management cover-ups of legitimate complaints
  • Residents are afraid of being further mis-treated when the facility learns of the report, of being thrown out, and of being discounted under the assumption that they made it up or are suffering from dementia
  • Families fear that abuse could intensify or their loved ones could be turned out if they report mistreatment

The organization also noted that fear and intimidation extends to the academic community. Aged Care Crisis notes that two researchers who each published their PhDs in this area were banned from residential care facilities because the research was not favorable to the facilities. One of the researchers reportedly lost contracts and needed to sell his home and relocate to find another facility that would allow him to do more research.

Elder abuse a growing concern in California

In California, there are more than 250,000 seniors living in licensed nursing facilities and other licensed long-term care facilities, and another 150,000 or more estimated to reside in unlicensed facilities that may not meet the required care standards. These numbers are expected to grow; the U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that California’s elderly population will more than double between 2000 and 2025, to 6.4 million.

It is widely accepted in the industry that relatively few cases of mistreatment are ever reported, but the numbers are still higher in California than in other parts of the country. The California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes released a report in 2009 stating that 13% of the complaints received by the California Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman involved allegations of abuse, exploitation, or neglect. This is more than double the national rate, 5%.

Preventing nursing home abuse in southern California

The thought of retaliation is often scary for all involved but the bravery of those who speak up helps to protect themselves and others. If you or a loved one suspect mistreatment by long-term care givers, speak with the Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyers at Ellis Injury Law today. Your confidential consultation is free and we never take a fee unless we secure compensation on your behalf.

 Additional nursing home abuse reporting resources:

  1. WITF, Seniors in nursing homes are often afraid to report elder abuse,
  2. The Consumer Voice, Residents’ Rights Month 2018,
  3. AgedCareCrisis, Fear of reporting elder abuse,

Nursing Homes Critically Understaffed: What It Means for Your Loved One

senior woman nursing homeOver a million elders reside in our nation’s skilled nursing facilities, where seniors rely on hired personnel to help them dress, bathe, eat and get their medications. When nursing homes are short-staffed, essential tasks get overlooked and avoidable injury ensues.

When staff are overwhelmed and overburdened, it’s the nursing home residents who suffer with bedsore-related infections, fall-related injuries, missed medications and unhygienic conditions.

Nursing homes overstating staffing levels

A recent analysis of payroll records in 14,000 Medicare-assisted facilities shows that the majority had over-reported their actual staffing numbers to the government, in effect, gaming the system. As reported by the New York Times, “payroll records provide the strongest evidence that over the last decade, the government’s 5-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified the periods of thin staffing that were common.”

Kaiser Health News evaluated the payroll data, finding alarming fluctuations in day-to-day nursing home staff levels. Facilities that earned 5-star ratings in the Medicare system for high staff to patient ratios had serious shortcomings. One facility – on its lowest days — had only one staff member for 18 residents.

Medicare has never outlined a mandatory staff to resident ratio. Instead, it asks nursing homes to make thoughtful staffing plans based on resident population and needs. It does, however, require a registered nurse to be on the premises for at least 8 hours a day. As several studies have highlighted, facilities that are critically understaffed have a history of health code violations — an important gauge of quality.

Understaffing leads to nursing home neglect

Nursing homes that are understaffed and scrambling to care for residents struggle with high turnover rates, and predictably, increased reports of elder neglect. Countless facilities in California and across the country have huge staff fluctuations, leaving large numbers of residents at serious risk. When basic needs are not met, and patients don’t receive the attention and time they need, the ramifications can be devastating.

Understaffed nursing homes is a critical issue that endangers the welfare of residents.

Lack of adequate care can lead to the following problems:

  • Serious conditions go undetected and untreated
  • Residents are unsupervised and more likely to fall and get injured
  • Lack of personal care and hygiene
  • Development of pressure sores/bed sores
  • Weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition
  • Anxiety and depression from lack of social interaction
  • Inadequate medical care

Any one of these issues can have a detrimental effect on the physical and emotional health of nursing home residents, and in worst-case scenarios, can even lead to death.

California nursing home neglect attorneys

When inadequate staffing causes neglect and injury, the law affords protections. If you’re concerned that your loved one isn’t receiving proper care in an assisted-living facility, discuss these concerns with your local ombudsman or Adult Protective Services and reach out to a Los Angeles nursing home neglect attorney at Ellis Law for a free consultation. Headquartered in L.A., our firm takes cases throughout California on a contingency basis. Learn more about your rights by calling 888-654-7056. 

Additional Resources on Understaffed Nursing Homes:

  1. NY Times, It’s Almost Like a Ghost Town.’ Most Nursing Homes Overstated Staffing for Years
  2. NY Times, Staffing Fluctuates at Nursing Homes Around the United States,

How to Tell a Loved One It’s Time for a Nursing Home

It is a difficult decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility — one that is often fraught with anxiety and guilt.  Caregivers may find themselves unable to cope – both financially and emotionally– with the escalating health problems and daily needs of an elderly family member or loved one.

When the signs are evident that nursing home placement is best for everyone, how do you go about telling your loved one? For many families, the act of communicating the news is the most stressful and heartbreaking of all.

Signs that assisted living care is near

It is understandable why many families are hesitant to move their elderly loved one into a long-term nursing home facility. Many worry that such placement will lead to depression, isolation and a decline in quality of life. But in situations where Alzheimer’s disease or dementia have taken hold, and seniors become a danger to themselves and those around them, the burden of caregiving may be far too much to handle.

According to the National Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 15 million people in the U.S. who are caring for a spouse or loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. When your loved one’s care needs extend beyond your physical – and emotional– capabilities, it may be time to consider assisted living. Even if their mental acuity is still intact, chronic health problems can make in-home care cost prohibitive.

Signs that an aged loved one may benefit from nursing home placement:

  • Showing signs of paranoia, aggression and other symptoms common with dementia
  • Loss of mobility
  • Social isolation
  • Inability or disinterest in taking care of themselves
  • Increasing medical care needs
  • Increasing forgetfulness
  • Incidences of wandering – getting lost
  • Frequent falls and injuries
  • Skipping meals, not eating well, lack of nutrition
  • Chronic disorientation, confusion and agitated behavior
  • Exhibiting unsafe behaviors
  • Failing to take medications

How to communicate the news

In an ideal scenario, your loved one will still have a degree of awareness and understanding when the topic of nursing home placement is broached. If the person feels like they are taking an active part in the decision-making process, they may be more accepting of such a major adjustment. In elderly with advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia, it may be better to have the conversation early in the morning, or during times when they are more likely to be calm and lucid.

Consider asking your family physician or home nursing assistant to help explain why such a move is necessary and for their own good.

The news may be met with resentment, fear and frustration. Dementia patients, particularly, may express feelings of anger and abandonment. Try and be patient and address each of their feelings with candor and compassion, so they understand the move has their best interests at heart. Let them understand that your role as “advocate” will continue.

Deciding between in-home care and nursing home placement is never an easy task. Given the increasing incidence of elder abuse and neglect in these facilities, families have good reason to feel reluctant about such a move.

Legal guidance in California

While many long-term care facilities provide excellent care to their patients, the statistics on nursing home neglect are both disturbing and disheartening. Close to one-third of all residents suffer some form of abuse or neglect at the hands of staff or other residents.

At Ellis Injury Law, our elder abuse lawyers have been helping families in California for more than 20 years. Contact our Los Angeles headquarters today to learn more about your rights to compensation.

For a free consult, please call 310-641-3335.

Additional Resources on Signs it’s Time for a Nursing Home:

  1., Recognize Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living
  2., How to Decide If It’s Time for Nursing Home Care
  3. AARP, When It’s Time for a Nursing Home
  4. APlaceforMom, How to Recognize Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living

What to Look for When Touring a Nursing Home

elderly man in nursing homeAs your loved ones age and come to need assisted living or other long-term care, you may need to find them a nursing home. You want the nursing home you choose, of course, to be conducive to their leading a full and good life. It needs to be clean, safe, and have activities and recreation available. Their rooms and meals should be pleasant and homey.

Most nursing homes have staff dedicated to showing families their facilities. They also have official inspection reports by state authorities. You should ask for a copy to know how the nursing home is rated.

You can receive a guided tour. What should you look for on the tour? Here are some suggestions.

Look for Cleanliness and Excellent Maintenance

Nursing homes should be clean and free from odors. All the areas should be well-maintained. Do the floors look clean and well-scrubbed, for example? Are rooms and common areas clean and well-vacuumed? Are the walls clean, or shabby or dingy?

Be sure to look carefully outside of the lobby. The lobbies of nursing homes are often well-maintained because that’s where guests come. You need to look at the resident rooms and common areas as well. Think of your loved one and where they would be on an average day. Those areas need to be clean and pleasant.

If you notice odors in any nursing home, that could be the result of poor maintenance, especially of bed pans or other resident needs.

Observe How Residents Are Treated

Nursing home residents should be treated with respect and friendliness by everyone concerned. The staff, the people giving you the tour, any medical personnel, and the other residents should all greet each other in a pleasant manner, by name.

Look for treatment that is respectful and in no way implies that senior citizens are “less than.” Belittling treatment can take the form of aggressiveness, humor at the expense of the resident, or even talking about residents in the third person while they are standing there or within earshot. If you see this, it might be a sign that the residents are not treated optimally by the staff, outside consultants, or each other. Poor treatment can make senior citizens withdraw and not participate in community life or even refuse medical treatment.

Talk to Long-term Residents

A good tour should allow you time to talk to residents casually. You should see residents in the common areas for recreation or in dining rooms. Make an effort to talk to them.

Ask how long they have lived in the nursing home. If they are long term, ask how they like it. What do they like about it? Would they recommend it?

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect? Speak with an Attorney

If you ever need an attorney for elder rights or nursing home abuse, the Ellis Law Firm is one your side. We have spent the last 20 years protecting senior citizen rights, in nursing homes and outside them.

Call us today at 310-641-3335 to discuss nursing home and senior care law. The first consultation with a Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorney is complimentary.

Additional Resources on Preparing to Tour a Nursing Home:

  1. How to Tour a Nursing Home. Alzheimers Association.
  2. What to Look for When Touring a Nursing Home. Next Avenue.

4 Crucial Health Tips for Seniors

healthy senior citizens exercisingAs people age, they can become more prone to illness if they are not vigilant about maintaining health. It’s vital that senior citizens follow these four crucial health tips.

1. Get a Flu Shot and Pneumococcal Vaccine Every Year

If you or a loved one is 65 or older, flu can be more serious that just sneezing a lot and running a fever for a few days. Flu can be life-threatening at any age, but the risk of complications advances as people age, because their immune systems are weaker.

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 71%-85% of people who die from flu annually are 65 years or age or older.

Senior citizens should get a flu shot every year in the autumn to protect against the chances of getting the flu. Your physician should also recommend a pneumococcal vaccine, which will protect against pneumonia, among other pneumococcal complications.

If you’re physician doesn’t recommend either one, ask. Be proactive about your health!

2. Get Preventive Screenings

If you’ve contracted a disease, you’ll have a better prognosis if it’s detected early. As a result, everyone should have preventive screenings, as recommended.

Women, for example, should get regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

Both men and women should receive regular colonoscopies after the age of 50, as colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

Other preventive screenings may be advisable for you, due to family history and other factors. Be sure to check with your physician.

3. Exercise and Stay Active

Many people exercise less as they get older. But exercise is key to maintaining good health as one ages. Without exercise, people lose flexibility and stamina. Loss of flexibility can cause the elderly to trip. Falls are a leading cause of injury and even death among people 65 and older.

While losing flexibility and becoming frailer is a normal part of the aging process, it can be minimized by a good exercise program. Everyone should exercise at least 150 minutes per week, in a combination of heart-healthy (aerobic) exercise and strength- and flexibility-building exercises.

4. Eat Healthily

Eating right can keep you in good health. It can ensure that you receive enough protein, vitamins and minerals for your body to fight off infection, keep your bone density healthy, and maintain peak health.

Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. Be sure to get enough calcium via milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese. Eat meat and other protein sources, such as legumes (beans).

Do You Know an Elderly Person Suffering from Neglect?

Keeping seniors healthy and safe is everyone’s responsibility. But unfortunately, too many seniors in the care of others can become victims of negligence and even abuse. If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect in southern California, we can help.

Ellis Injury Law has been investigating and successfully litigating elder neglect cases in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. Let us help you if you or a loved one has been harmed in a nursing home or other care-taking environment.

Contact us today at 310-641-3335 for a complimentary consultation with a Los Angeles nursing home neglect attorney. We will advise you about your case at no cost to you.

More Information on Healthy Living Habits for Seniors:

  1. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What You Should Know and Do this Flu Season If You Are 65 Years and Older.
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Health Tips for Older Adults.

Dementia Breakthrough 2017: New Alzheimer’s Treatments Offer Hope

senior woman nursing homeThere is new hope for the treatment of dementia on the horizon. Blood thinning medications such as warfarin were recently shown to reduce the risk of dementia in patients.

Anticoagulants Found to Reduce Risk of Dementia

A recent study carried out by Swedish researchers found that the more than 444,000 atrial fibrillation patients taking anticoagulants (AGs) to prevent blood clots at the beginning of the study had a 29% lower risk of developing dementia than those not receiving an AG.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart arrthymia that becomes more prevalent as people age. Patients with atrial fibrillation have a higher chance of having a stroke, which is why AGs are frequently prescribed in conjunction with the condition.

Patients who continued to take AGs were 48% less likely to develop dementia than patients who didn’t.

The results held true whether the AG prescribed was warfarin, a long-time standby drug to prevent blood clots, or newer-generation AGs.

Although the study was designed to look at atrial fibrillation patients, the authors of the study found that AGs are very likely to have a preventive effect on dementia.

Researchers believe that the drugs’ positive effect on dementia may be related to its anti-clotting properties. It lessens the risk that patients will develop the larger blood clots that can lead to a stroke. But it is possible that it also lessens the risk of patients developing smaller clots, which can escape medical notice because they have no immediate effects. Long term, though, these small clots can cause brain function to deteriorate, which manifests as dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is leading cause of dementia, which can impair the ability to look after oneself and to remember things. Alzheimer’s causes 93,541 deaths every year in the United States, making it the sixth leading cause of death.

Dementia Patients Are Disproportionately Represented in Nursing Homes

Because dementia patients often cannot look after themselves and need constant care, many of them end up in nursing homes and other facilities throughout the nation.

More than 50% of nursing home residents across the U.S., for example, have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementias, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of senior citizens using home health agencies, more than 31% have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Over thirty-nine percent of community care residential patients also have these conditions.

Unfortunately, however, patients with dementias are sometimes neglected or abused in nursing homes. They may be subject to physical abuse. They may be subject to psychological abuse. Signs may include bruising or other signs of injury, or withdrawal, distress and increased confusion.

Do You Need a Los Angeles Nursing Home Lawyer?

If you suspect that an elderly loved one in a nursing home or other care facility in southern California is being abused, know that help is possible. Ellis Injury Law has been litigating and investigating nursing home neglect and abuse for more than two decades. Let us help you.

Contact us today at 310-641-3335 for a consultation with an experienced Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorney at no cost to you.

Additional “Dementia Breakthrough Treatments” Resources:

  1. Sheldrick, Giles. “New Dementia Breakthrough: Blood-Thinning Drugs Slash Risk of Being Struck Down.” The Express. October 25, 2017.
  2. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alzheimer’s Disease.

5 Common Types of Financial Elder Abuse

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneFinancial exploitation of older adults is a growing threat to our nation’s aging population, sparking authorities to call the problem “rampant, invisible and lethal.” Research gleaned in a 2010 Elder Fraud Survey found that at least one in five Americans over the age of 65 has been victimized by financial abuse or fraud – a scourge that by some estimates is costing our seniors nearly $37 billion a year.

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, financial elder abuse is vastly underreported and remains a serious concern among seniors with mild to moderate cognitive impairments.  Seniors who are having troubles with critical thinking skills or memory are more vulnerable to manipulation by trusted loved ones, family members, friends, doctors, caregivers as well as professional predators who target the elderly in variety of scams.

Older adults are attractive targets for financial exploitation for a slew of reasons. They control the vast majority of our nation’s wealth; some do not know the real value of their property and assets; they have disabilities that make them dependent on others for assistance; they are less likely to suspect or report instances of financial abuse, and computer technology has made managing finances too complex for many older adults.

Common types of financial exploitation of seniors

Elder financial abuse takes many forms, and can be perpetrated by relatives, spouses, as well as predatory professionals who purposefully exploit vulnerable seniors.

Some of the most common examples include:

  • Grandparent scams – the perpetrator calls an elder claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter in a dire emergency situation, and asks for a bank or wire transfer to help them out.
  • Lottery or Sweepstake scams – the perpetrator calls the target, saying they have won a nonexistent lottery or prize and needs the senior’s checking account number or credit card information to pay for shipping. Alternatively, they may ask for the victim to wire money to cover the custom fees for a foreign prize.
  • Telemarketing scams/mail fraud – perpetrator encourages an older adult to purchase a nonexistent product, invest in a fictitious enterprise or donate their money to a bogus charity.
  • Annuity scams – Unscrupulous agents persuade senior clients to invest in expensive annuities that will not mature for another 10-15 years, when the victim is too old to reap the benefits.
  • Financial exploitation from family members – who pressure their parent for a big loan and never repay it; or misuse a Power of Attorney to spend money for their own use; stealing ATM cards to make secret withdrawals or forging signatures to cash checks. Offenders often employ intimidation, deceit, emotional abuse or the promise of lifelong care in pressuring their victims to sign over property, open a joint bank account, or naming them beneficiaries in wills.

Sadly, financial exploitation is one of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse today. Financial abuse can have a devastating impact on seniors, leaving them without the economic means to provide for their long-term needs and reliant on federally-funded programs. Many victims become isolated, suffer depression and feelings of shame, worthlessness and guilt.

Legal assistance from elder abuse lawyers

California has enacted statutes that specifically address elder financial abuse, offering legal remedies to those who have been defrauded of their property, money or assets. Under the Welfare and Institutions Code § 15657.7, there is a four-year time limit for pursuing financial abuse cases. 

Ellis Law Corporation is dedicated to assisting older victims of financial crimes. For more than 25 years, our legal team has been advocating for seniors throughout southern California. Call 310-641-3335 to consult with a California elder abuse lawyer today.

Additional “Elder Financial Exploitation” Resources:

  1. National Adult Protective Services Association, Elder Financial Exploitation
  2. CA Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Elder Financial Abuse Litigation Guide
  3. National Institute of Justice, Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
  4. Grantmakers in Aging, Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation

How to Prove Neglect in a Nursing Home Lawsuit

nursing home abuseNursing homes have a duty of care to their patients, just as other medical facilities do. Unfortunately, older people in nursing homes can be hurt by neglect.

If these duty of care standards are breached due to neglect, the nursing homes can be charged with negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Negligence means that the nursing home knew or reasonably should have known that an event or condition was harming the patient, and neglected to do anything about it.

If the neglect centered around medical care or medications, nursing homes can be charged with medical malpractice.

Definition of neglect

Elder abuse is often a specific act, such as hitting or striking a senior citizen. Neglect can be more complicated to define, because it is harm that may result from failing to do something rather than doing it.

Broadly speaking, neglect encompasses such activities as denial of the senior citizen’s needs. All people have needs for food, shelter, clothing, and cleanliness, for example. Nursing homes must provide all of these to their patients sufficiently. They must also provide needed medicine, in the correct dose and at the correct time.

Failure to provide any of these can be neglect.

Allegations of neglect can also be brought regarding the nursing home’s conduct in respect to its employees, subcontractors, training, and adherence to laws and regulations.

Nursing homes must hire qualified people. There must be sufficient people on each shift to care for the patients. They must be trained sufficiently. If parts of the staff are run by agencies, as security personnel and health aides sometimes are, they must be qualified and trained as well.

Finally, all regulations, Federal, state, or local, must be followed.

Neglect can be charged against nursing homes and agencies utilized by nursing homes in any of these categories.

How is nursing home negligence proved?

Proving negligence can also be complicated. If your loved one, for example, is prone to falling due to a medical condition such as Parkinson’s, proving that the falling is due to inadequate maintenance of hallways can be complicated.

First, listen closely to the senior citizen in the nursing home. If their story of how they fell is markedly different from that of nursing home personnel, follow up.

Second, note the condition of your loved one and the nursing home. Do they look properly cared for? Are there bruises from falling or other accidents? Do they appear to be losing weight? Are their clothes adequate? Is the nursing home less than adequately maintained?

Any of these conditions and more could be signs of neglect. Take pictures if you can. That can be evidence of conditions or events. If you can’t, make note of the signs of neglect and the date. Courts need a record.

Third, report neglect to the police and southern California adult protective services. Just as in other legal cases, a report can be accepted by a court as evidence.

Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney today

Ellis Law Firm has two decades of experience in fighting for the rights of senior citizens. We represent families in elder neglect and abuse cases, fighting vigorously to protect the rights of your loved one. Call us today to discuss nursing home neglect and senior care law. We will talk at no charge to you. Call 310-641-3335 to speak with an experienced LA nursing home neglect lawyer.

Additional “proving nursing home abuse” resources:

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Understanding Elder Abuse. Fact Sheet 2016.
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Violence Prevention. Elder Abuse: Prevention Strategies.

What Merits a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?

Elder neglect and abuse is an increasing area of legal concern for families who entrust the care of their loved ones to rest homes.  Assisted living facilities across the nation have been cited for alarming incidents of mistreatment toward their residents, and the unfortunate reality is that many of these cases go unreported by victims. Several studies have shown that state and federally funded nursing homes, as well as dozens of private ones, are under financial strain to provide the level of quality care and staff-to-resident ratio necessary to ensure the safety and security of their charges.

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes can be held legally liable for any physical injury, neglect, or emotional abuse sustained by a patient. In the past, suing for nursing home abuse or neglect was nearly impossible, thanks to fine print clauses in contracts that kept claims out of the courtroom, and forced into arbitration. However, just last year the Health and Human Services Department changed this rule, which would have barred civil litigation against federally-funded nursing homes. The new regulations are intended to help protect the more than 1.5 million seniors who are currently residing in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid monies.

What actions can give rise to a civil lawsuit?

Elder abuse is a broad term that can encompass a number of behaviors that harm, violate or exploit older adults. Many states, including California, have enacted Elder Abuse Laws intended deter and punish the mistreatment of the most frail and vulnerable among us. There are numerous behaviors, intentional and negligent actions that can give rise to a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

Victims and their families may sue for a wide variety of damages, including: pain and suffering, physical injury, neglect, emotional anguish, fraud, failure to provide an accepted standard of care, as well as failing to comply with state statutes on nursing home care.

The following are examples of actions and failures that can provide grounds for a civil lawsuit:

  • Lack of adequate supervision, which can lead to falls or injury
  • Failure to provide proper medical care, such as under-medicating, over-medicating, or administering the wrong drug
  • Use of unnecessary restraint (both physical and sedative restraints)
  • Negligent hiring of untrained personnel or staff with a history of elder abuse
  • Physical violence where the patient is hit, pushed or treated crudely
  • Any type of sexual abuse or misconduct
  • Neglect or abandonment – the failure to provide essential daily care, leading to malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, infections or other harm to the patient
  • Financial exploitation, or the illegal taking or misuse of the patient’s money, assets or real property
  • Emotional abuse – using threatening language to humiliate, isolate or ridicule
  • Failure to maintain sanitary and safe conditions for residents
  • Failure to ensure the facility is free of hazards and dangers which can lead to life-threatening falls

If it can be demonstrated that residential care facilities, including their owners, managers and care givers deviated from the “standard” care, or failed to comply with regulations set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services, victims may have a viable claim for damages.

Although thousands of highly qualified and compassionate professionals work at nursing home facilities and assisted living centers, the growing number of aged Americans has meant a sharp uptick in cases of elder abuse and neglect.

Los Angeles nursing home abuse attorneys

In 1982, California passed the Elder Abuse Act, which provides legal remedies for victims of neglect, mental suffering, physical abuse, abandonment, financial abuse and other actions that cause pain and suffering. Furthermore, if it is proven that a defendant acted with “recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of the abuse,” plaintiffs can also seek punitive damages.

At Ellis Law Corporation, our dedicated legal team has helped many families in the greater Los Angeles area seek damages in elder abuse and neglect cases. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a California nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm, please call 310-641-3335.

Additional Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Resources:

  1. NBC News, You may be signing away your right to sue the nursing home
  2. New York Times, U.S. Just Made It a Lot Less Difficult to Sue Nursing Homes

Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Nursing Homes

Elder neglect and abuse is an escalating concern given that some two million seniors reside in our nation’s long-term care facilities. According to research by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, as many as five million older adults are victims of abuse or mistreatment every year. Many residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities suffer from cognitive impairment – sometimes losing the capacity to recognize mistreatment and defend themselves from negligent or abusive caregivers.

The grim reality is that many of our aging loved ones are subject to a range of unspeakable acts, from physical and verbal abuse to isolation and sexual exploitation. In order to prevent the abuse and mistreatment of your family members or loved ones, it’s important to recognize red flags that signal an older adult is being harmed.

Nursing home neglect warning signs

  • Signs of physical abuse – Be alert for unexplained injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones, cuts, pressure marks, abrasions or signs of being restrained. If the explanations given by nursing home staff don’t sound “right,” they warrant additional questions and research.
  • Signs of emotional abuse – Verbal abuse is much more challenging to detect, especially in victims with dementia who cannot express what is happening to them. Look out for unusual behavior or personality changes: sudden depression or withdrawal, or biting and rocking. Have you seen the caregiver yell at or belittle your loved one? Have they been forced into isolation from other residents against their will? Anxious or nervous behavior around the caregiver may indicate an elder is fearful. Be concerned if the caregiver doesn’t want you to be alone with your loved one, or doesn’t let them speak for themselves.
  • Signs of Neglect – Understaffed nursing homes may not be equipped or have the trained personnel to ensure your loved one’s most basic needs are being met. This neglect may be passive or intentional, resulting in unusual weight loss, soiled diapers, bed sores, dirty clothes, poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, and increased incidences of illness or injury due to lack of adequate supervision. Other signs of neglect are lack of basic medical aids such as glasses, a hearing aid or medication.
  • Signs of Sexual Abuse – Bruises near the genitals or breasts, blood-stained undergarments, unexplained venereal diseases or urinary tract infections, difficulty walking, as well as withdrawn behavior around certain caregivers.
  • Signs of Financial Abuse – Long-term caregivers are in a unique position to exploit their patients financially, using harassment, threats or false pretenses to steal money and assets. Be alert for unexplained bank withdrawals, frequent ATM withdrawals, unusual credit card purchases, new co-signers on bank accounts or credit cards, and changes in power of attorney.

Elder abuse lawyers in California

While the presence of one of these signs does not automatically indicate that abuse is occurring, it does merit further investigation to ensure the safety of your loved one. In the end, it’s always wise to report your concerns to your California long-term care ombudsman, or local adult protective services agency.

The elder abuse attorneys at Ellis Law stand prepared to bring abusive and negligent caregivers to justice. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in elder abuse law, our legal team offers aggressive legal representation to victims throughout southern California.  Call 310-641-3335 to arrange a confidential case review today.

Additional “Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect” Resources:

  1. Next Avenue, 6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
  2., 5 Signs of Elder Abuse
  3. ElderAbuseHelpline, Identifying Elder Abuse Types & Signs Risk factors for elder abuse