Why You May Want to Consider Contacting an Elder Abuse Attorney
The vast majority of people likely do not know the entirety of what an elder abuse attorney does. So, what does an elder abuse attorney really do? Elder abuse attorneys handle a broad spectrum of legal matters that affect the elderly, ranging form health care, long term care planning, retirement, guardianship, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and nursing home matters. Elder abuse attorneys are specialists, as they deal specifically with the needs of older adults. So, why would you need an elder abuse attorney in California? We will now focus on some examples.
Forty million Americans are over 65 years of age. Their numbers will only rise. Unfortunately, a high number of these people fall. Older adults and their relatives usually tend to think that falls happens to other people, rather than someone close to them. However, this is not always true. Annually, one in three elderly persons fall. The most widespread consequences are broken or fractured bones, head injuries, and especially, traumatic brain injuries. Every year falls cause 25,000 premature deaths.
Unfortunately, those residing in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have a higher risk of falling because their average age is higher, thus their likelihood of falling is very high. They tend to have more diseases and need more attention. In other cases, the higher risk is connected to negligence and malpractice in the facility.
However, their fates aren’t sealed. Though falls increase incrementally with old age, they aren’t a normal part of aging. Most falls can be prevented.
Frequent medical examination significantly eliminates many risks. Not all the elderly are aware of their vision problems or how fast it develops, and they fall. Hence, those examinations are crucial. Constant checks also make sure that other age-related problems, such as vitamin D deficiency – which is associated with higher fracture rates – can be treated with calcium and vitamin D. Poor footwear is another risk factor. Shoes need to be easy to wear, and stable. Using walker and cane is another way of drastically reducing risks. These are very basic steps that can be used to prevent falls.
If these steps have not been taken, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim in the State of California.
Falls are caused by a combination of factors. Therefore, coming up with a single solution won’t help to tackle the issue. That’s why professional help is so important. Skilled nursing facilities have risk assessment procedures in place. These procedures should be quick, easy and practical to implement. For the safety of your loved ones, you must demand them to have certain professional interventions to reduce the risks.
To Accept or not to Accept Physical Restraints – Potential Elder Abuse in California
Several myths about falls need to be debunked. The most important one is that limiting one’s activity prevents falls. This is false. Choosing not to leave the room, staying in bed, confining oneself in a small space, and avoiding movement only reduce our muscle strength. As the body gets weaker because of inactivity, previously harmless things such as simple bedrails become threats to health. Limiting activity doesn’t decrease the risks. On the contrary, limitations can cause more falls.
If older adults in skilled facilities take regular walks they can maintain muscle flexibility. Being allowed to move freely can also improve coordination and balance. This is why the facilities need exercise programs. Contrary to popular belief that it is impossible to increase muscle strength in old age, exercising can immensely improve physical strength and functioning. The restraining action should be chosen only if there is no other option. It should be employed as a last resort. Otherwise, it may not only make the patients frail but also create profound psychological effects, such as depression.
Medication and Overmedication Relating to Elder Abuse
Some medications have the side effect of disturbing balance. Especially when residents have several prescription drugs, it is highly possible that at least one of them would affect their movements. Moreover, if overmedication occurs, it almost certainly causes patients to lose the control over their bodies and fall, leading to serious problems. To overcome that problem, the facilities should avoid overmedication. In other cases, there must be at least one staff member near the patients, ready to intervene at any moment. If you think that a loved one may have had an accident due to overmedication or lack of medication, an experienced elder abuse attorney in California will be able to help guide you through the process of determining whether or not the facility was responsible.
To be sure that there is constant care for your loved ones, you must check the staff-patient ratio. Higher the ratio, fewer the falls. A higher ratio means that there isn’t overworked and fatigued staff that may make human errors.
Some elderly are terrified of being confined to beds so much so that if they fall and sustain mild bruises that don’t impede their movements, they may choose not to inform their relatives and the staff in order to keep their mobility. For them being bedridden is losing their freedom. And for some of them, it is even equal to losing self-worth. The soul doesn’t age with time. It keeps pursuing freedom and happiness. This psychological aspect should never be overlooked. If there is a professional nearby at all times, they could prevent the fall, and in cases when it’s inevitable, at least treat it and come up with a new action plan.
Unsafe Bedrails and Other Equipment
Bedrails may seem fairly innocuous, but every year about 4,000 patients in nursing home facilities get emergency treatment for bedrail-related injuries. Some of these falls occur when the patients crawl out of bed under the influence of medication. In other cases, illnesses play a major role.
Many bedrail-related falls happen when a patient gets stuck between a mattress and bed rail. As their bodies progressively get frailer, this may lead to serious injuries. When visiting your loved ones, make sure to have a look at their beds. The space between mattress and bed rail should be narrow. The mattress should fit the frame perfectly.
Bed and toilet heights need to be neither too high nor too low. They are potential environmental risk factors and because they are used every day. Incorrect bed height can result in multiple falls. Moreover, the patient’s own height should be taken into consideration. When visiting loved ones, pay attention to these details and if possible, ask them whether they are comfortable with their living space as well as with the furniture and equipment around them. Their living space should not be cluttered. A simple inquiry to learn if their bathroom light is sufficient for them can be a real help.
Even when we do our best, falls can still happen. Alongside following safety procedures, and making the environment surrounding our loved ones as harmless as possible, facilities need one more thing. They need great communication skills to connect with their patients. Having a strong and understanding dialogue between the elderly and the staff is the most crucial way to fight against falls.
You Can Benefit From the Assistance of an Elder Abuse Attorney
Elder Abuse is a serious issue in Southern California as well as throughout the United States. Elder Abuse need not be malicious to qualify as the legal definition of elder abuse. Neglect plays an important role in many cases of elder abuse. This can be due to a number of factors. If you believe that a loved one might have been a victim of elder abuse, do not hesitate to contact an attorney who knows the rights your loved one has. At Stipp Law Firm, APC, we have a long track record of defending patients in elder abuse cases. We will do everything to make sure that your loved ones know their rights and are protected. Contact us today for a free consultation at 760-994-0480.