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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home abuse and neglect can happen anywhere. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the country struggle with staffing issues, budgetary restraints, and keeping up with America’s quickly growing elderly population. Even though these issues exist, nursing home staff still have a legal and ethical obligation to treat residents with dignity and provide the medical care and daily living assistance they need. When nursing home staff do not uphold this obligation, the staff or facility itself can be held liable for any deaths, injuries, and illnesses caused by the poor care.

Waukegan Woman Says Her Sister Was Not Properly Cared For

Unfortunately, another Chicago-area nursing home is in hot water after allegations of neglect. A Waukegan woman says that her sister has experienced nursing home neglect after a brain aneurysm and stroke caused her to need around-the-clock care. The woman says that when she went to check on her disabled sister at the Waukegan nursing home in which she was living, the woman was shocked. The disabled woman’s feet looked extremely discolored and the skin was very dry and rough.

The sister of the disabled woman says that it was obvious that her sister had not received a bath or even a change of socks in a long time. “They just put socks on her and they left her be,” she said. The nursing home is now saying that they are aware of the issue and are working on a medical plan to treat the disabled woman’s disfigured feet. Her sister believes that the issue should have never gotten so bad without staff noticing, saying, “She needs to be treated like she’s a human being.”

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysDegenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can completely rob a person of their ability to think clearly and remember even basic information. Family members of those suffering cognitive decline often choose to place their loved one in a nursing home to ensure they are getting the care they need. Sadly, not every nursing home meets the standards of care that loved ones of residents expect. If you have a loved one with cognitive issues in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Because many residents with cognitive impairment cannot be their own advocate, it is up to loved ones to advocate on behalf of the resident.

Signs Your Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents with dementia often cannot simply tell their loved ones that they are being mistreated. They may not be able to remember the abuse or understand what has actually happened to them. Loved ones should look for signs that the resident is not being cared for appropriately. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries like welts, bruises, burns, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and more. Marks from being restrained such as marks on wrists and ankles may also be a sign of abuse.

Signs of neglect can include but are not limited to bed sores, infections, malnutrition, and dehydration. Another sign that something is not right in a nursing home is when nurses or other caregivers are hesitant for you to spend time with the resident alone.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents live in a nursing home because they are unable to live on their own. This could be due to physical disabilities, mental incapacitation, or most often, both. Sometimes these issues make it necessary to restrain a resident in order to limit his or her movement in some way. For example, side rails on a bed may be used to help a resident who is prone to rolling out of bed avoid injury. Restraints can be either physical or chemical, and should only be used when doing so is absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the resident. Restraints that are used as a punishment or for the convenience of nursing home staff are unacceptable and not in compliance with Illinois law.

The Nursing Home Care Act Outlines Residents’ Rights

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is a law that protects the rights of nursing home residents and dictates the type of care that nursing home staff must provide for residents. According to the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Be free from neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff;
  • Practice their chosen religion;
  • Keep personal items and clothing in their room;
  • Receive medical treatment from a doctor of their choosing;
  • Receive visits, phone calls, and other correspondence from loved ones;
  • Refuse unwanted medical treatment; and
  • Be free from unreasonable restraint.

These are only a few of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act. The full text of the act can be found in Section 210 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysMore and more individuals are admitted to nursing homes and assisted living facilities every day. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may worry about the quality of care they are receiving. Because many elderly and disabled nursing home residents are not able to speak up for themselves when they are being mistreated, it is up to their loved ones to ensure they are being adequately cared for.

Nursing home neglect and abuse are tragically not uncommon occurrences. One sign that nursing home residents are being neglected is when they do not receive their medications on time and in the accurate doses. Medication errors are especially dangerous to those with pre-existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems.

Examples of Medication Errors

The administration of medication is not always as simple as giving a nursing home resident a pill and a glass of water. Individuals staying in a nursing home often have serious illnesses or incapacities which make them especially vulnerable. Examples of medication errors which occur in nursing homes include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer” generation ages, more and more Americans are moving into long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living centers. Tragically, many nursing homes in the U.S are plagued by staffing issues and funding limitations which leads to inadequate care. Studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 44 percent of elders surveyed had been abused and a staggering 95 percent had suffered neglect or had seen others neglected. Even more disturbing, over 50 percent of nursing home staff surveyed admitted to mistreating nursing home residents. Sadly, many instances of nursing home abuse and neglect go unreported. A study conducted by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging found that elders experience abuse at a rate 24 times greater than the number of cases referred to law enforcement or social services.

Some Say Current Nursing Home Databases Are Ineffective

In order to address the prevalence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing earlier this month. The committee discussed reports of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes as well as ideas regarding how to protect these vulnerable residents from abuse. Just prior to the Senate hearing, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they are updating online tools which people can use to research nursing home quality and ratings. The Nursing Home Compare database rates nursing homes based on staffing, inspections, and other quality measures. The CMS rating system has criticized for inaccuracies and incomplete reporting. During the Senate hearing, a woman whose mother passed away as a result of nursing home neglect testified that even after her mother died from inadequate care, the facility where she lived had “received the highest possible ranking from CMS for quality of resident care.”  This particular facility had even been fined the year previously for physical and verbal abuse of residents.

Those Seeking a Safe, Compassionate Nursing Home Must Research Thoroughly

If you are looking for a nursing home for your loved one to call home, make sure to research your options thoroughly. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is becoming more and more common and the residents often cannot report the mistreatment themselves. Checking out a facility in-person may be the best way to look for signs of neglect or abuse. Speaking with nursing home staff may also give you an idea of how compassionate and attentive staff will behave toward your loved one.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysFor healthy individuals, taking a spontaneous walk outside is not a danger. However, when elderly or disabled individuals wander away from a long-term care facility like a nursing home, the results can be fatal. When 76-year-old Phyllis Campbell wandered out of the Ohio nursing home she lived in, she ended up outside in freezing temperatures. Campbell, like many nursing home residents, suffered from dementia and did not realize the danger she was in by going outside. Despite wearing a monitoring device that should have sounded alarms, Campbell was not found until the morning after leaving the facility. She had passed away due to hypothermia just 30 feet from the doors to the nursing home. If your loved one was injured or passed away due to the carelessness of a nursing home or other long term care facility, you may be able to pursue compensation.

Residents with Cognitive Impairment May Be Most At-Risk

The term “wandering” is used to describe nursing home residents who leave the safe areas they are supposed to stay in. Nursing homes have many areas such as kitchens and janitorial closets which contain potentially dangerous substances and environmental hazards. A resident suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive impairment may not understand that a dangerous situation poses a threat. Confused residents may attempt to leave the facility entirely. This is referred to as “elopement.” Tragically, residents who elope may die before someone finds them. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to closely supervise residents with cognitive decline. Some nursing homes use monitoring devices and alarms in order to help alert the staff to wandering residents. Unfortunately, as was the case with Phyllis Campbell, these safety measures do not always work.

Staff Should Monitor Residents Who Wander

Nursing home staff should do everything possible to prevent resident wandering and elopement. They must find a balance between allowing the residents to have autonomy and keeping them safe. Staff have an obligation to be aware of residents’ whereabouts and keep them out of harm’s way. Sadly, many nursing homes are understaffed or contain staff with inadequate training. Often, staffing issues like these lead to overlooked resident wandering and elopement.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers, form when a person spends long periods of time in the same position. Bed sores most often occur in individuals who are immobile due to illness or disability. Nursing home staff should take precautions to prevent bed sores in residents by regularly repositioning them and immediately treating sores if they occur. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as one out of ten residents in nursing homes suffer from bed sores at any given time. If your loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it may be a sign of neglect.

Preventing Bed Sores in Elderly and Disabled Individuals

Caretakers should take steps to prevent bed sores before they start. If your loved one cannot move himself or herself, you will have to help regularly reposition them. It may be helpful to position the person at a 30-degree angle to reduce pressure on their hips. Caretakers who look after disabled or elderly individuals should also make sure to inspect their skin for signs that bed sores are forming. Malnutrition can be a cause of bed sores as well. Nursing home residents who do not receive enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in their diets may suffer from bed sores in addition to other aliments caused by lack of nutrition.

Areas of the Body on Which Bed Sores Commonly Occur

Bed sores are a major concern for people confined to a wheelchair or bed. For nursing home residents who must use a wheelchair all or most of the day, the most common areas for bed sores to form include the:

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer" generation ages, more and more people need the around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Long-term care facilities can provide a safe home for elderly and disabled individuals, but sadly, not every nursing home is up to standards. Vulnerable nursing home residents can be experience neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation at the hands of caregivers.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should always be on the lookout for signs that something isn’t right. Often, the signs of elder neglect and abuse are subtle. Nursing home residents who struggle with cognition, memory, or speech may be unable to ask for help or communicate what has happened to them. Loved ones of nursing home residents should be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Withdrawn or Uncommunicative Staff May Be a Red Flag

Understandably, not everyone enjoys every second of their work day. Nursing home staff members have a job which can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally demanding. However, nursing home staff should still be personally committed to the well-being of the residents in their care. Nursing home or assisted living staff who avoid talking with residents’ family members or seem uncomfortable interacting with residents may be a red flag. Likewise, overworked, exhausted staff can be a warning sign that the facility is not staffed adequately. Staffing issues, including understaffing and undertraining, are some of the most common reasons residents suffer neglect and abuse.  

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneyWinter is the time of year when everyone should be frequently washing their hands and being extra careful to avoid illness. Unfortunately, nursing home residents do not always have the ability or resources to keep their bodies healthy and free of disease. The National Institute of Health estimates that 2 million infections occur in nursing homes every year. Although some of these infections are not preventable, others are a direct cause of negligent nursing home staff. Infections can rapidly worsen if they are not properly treated by a medical professional. If you or someone you love one has developed an illness after experiencing an infection in a nursing home, it is important to understand your available options.

Infections Common in Illinois Nursing Homes Residents

Nursing home residents are often elderly or have compromised immune systems due to illness. This is why it is critical that nursing home staff treat infections as soon as possible to prevent them from worsening. The most common nursing home infections include:

  • Urinary tract infections;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Clostridium difficile infections (CDI);
  • Influenza;
  • Sepsis;
  • Gastrointestinal infections; and
  • Soft tissue and skin infections.

When Is the Nursing Home Liable for Infections?

Elderly, disabled, and sick individuals are already at an increased risk of infection. Not every resident in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility who gets an infection does so because of negligence. However, nursing home negligence and abuse can certainly cause an increased risk of infection and illness. Some infections can even be fatal.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes care for the most vulnerable among us. These facilities are therefore held to a high degree of accountability. Staff in nursing homes or assisted living facilities should always be on the lookout for environmental hazards that could injure a resident. A leaky ceiling which creates a puddle on the ground, for example, could cause a resident to slip and fall.

A fall like this may not seem dangerous to a healthy person, but an elderly person with compromised health may suffer serious injury from such a fall. A resident who falls and hits his or her head may suffer a concussion, the mildest version of a traumatic brain injury. Concussions can cause significant pain and cognitive problems. More severe brain injuries can cause permanent impairment.

Concussions in the Elderly Can Be Hard to Spot

Because many nursing home residents suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments, they may not be able to report a head injury when it happens. If you have a loved one who suffered a blow to the head, make sure they receive the appropriate medical treatment. Symptoms of a concussion are often subtle and gradual, so do not rule out a concussion without a professional medical evaluation. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person but generally include

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like assisted living homes and nursing homes care for the most vulnerable among us. Therefore, these facilities must be held to a high degree of accountability. When a nursing home or its employees act negligently, they should be held liable for the harm they caused. Nursing home abuse and neglect can incur steep medical bills, unnecessary pain and suffering, or even disfigurement and disability. If you or someone you love has suffered due to negligent nursing home staff, you may be able to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit.

Hiring Problems Can Lead to Mistreatment of Residents

Negligent hiring is unfortunately an issue for many nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Understandably, working at a nursing home with residents who need help showering and using the bathroom is a challenging job. Many nursing home residents also have cognitive issues which cause confusion or belligerence. Nursing homes should hire personnel who are appropriately qualified and have no history of abuse or violence. A care facility may be considered negligent if it hires staff without proper background checks or verification of qualifications.

Understaffing and Inadequate Training Put Nursing Home Residents at Risk

Another major issue with many nursing homes is understaffing. A nursing home must meet certain staff-to-resident requirements in order to properly supervise and care for residents. Unlike other medical facilities, nursing homes are filled with individuals who cannot be responsible for their own safety. A nursing home resident with severe dementia, for example, may not remember to drink and eat without being reminded. Residents with cognitive impairments can wander outside and quickly become lost or injured. Patients who cannot physically move by themselves may develop pressure ulcers or bed sores because staff do not attend to them regularly. Staff who are underqualified for their job or who were not adequately trained cannot provide the quality of care required by law. Nursing homes can be considered legally responsible when a resident is injured or killed due to inadequate staffing.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysExtremely cold winter weather has come to the Chicago area, and nobody is more vulnerable to the cold than elderly individuals and people with disabilities. It is critically important that caretakers take steps to reduce vulnerable individuals’ exposure to freezing temperatures and icy conditions. Nursing home staff should always keep a close eye on nursing home residents who tend to wander off – but this is especially imperative during adverse weather. Sadly, issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training can lead to nursing homes which do not adequately care for their residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect leads to the loss of thousands of innocent lives every year.

Nursing Home Residents are at Increased Risk of Frostbite and Hypothermia

In extremely cold temperatures, any exposed skin has the potential to develop frostbite in as few as five minutes. Because the body’s natural reaction to the cold is to divert blood flow from extremities to the major organs like the heart, areas like the face and fingertips are usually the first body parts to be affected by frostbite. The first warning signs of frostbite are pain, tingling, and skin discoloration, however, these warning signs are not always obvious. Nursing home residents with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be unable to notice these warning signs until irreversible damage is done. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s internal temperature dips too low for the body to function correctly. It can cause confusion and eventually unconsciousness followed by death. Elderly people and those in poor health are being encouraged to stay inside as much as possible during extreme temperatures.

Long-Term Care Facility Staff Must Supervise Residents Who Wander or Attempt to Elope

Nursing home staff are responsible for supervising residents, helping them complete daily living tasks, like taking medicine and showering, and keeping them safe. Unfortunately, not every nursing home or assisted living facility fulfills their duties adequately. For example, a 76-year-old woman in Ohio tragically passed away from hypothermia after wandering from her nursing home during frigid temperatures last January. Nursing home residents with reduced mental capacity due to age or illness may not understand that they must stay inside during extreme weather. Icy conditions can also make slips and falls more likely, which can be especially dangerous to the vulnerable.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysA couple of weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed a case out of Arizona in which a female nursing home patient gave birth despite having been incapacitated for more than 25 years. The nature of the story led to national headlines as the investigation continued locally to determine how such a thing could have happened. This week, law enforcement officials in Phoenix announced that they have made an arrest in the case and that the suspect will be facing criminal charges.

A Quick Recap

According to various news outlets, a 29-year-old patient surprised the staff at a Phoenix-area nursing home when she went into labor on December 29, 2018, and gave birth to a baby boy. The labor was surprising because the woman had been incapacitated and living in the nursing home since a near-drowning incident when she was 3 years old. Staff members said that they had no idea that the woman was pregnant until she went into labor.

Early stories reported that the woman was in a vegetative state, but her family has since refuted those reports. An attorney for her family said, “She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head, and neck. [She] responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures.”

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyThere are a myriad of reasons an individual may come to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation facility. They may only need temporary care while recovering from surgery or a serious illness, or they may need to live in the facility permanently. Nursing home residents who suffer from severe mental and physical impairments need round-the-clock care and supervision. Residents with cognitive decline or aliments like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even remember to eat and drink without being reminded. It is for this reason that many nursing home residents can so easily become dehydrated or malnourished. Problems like understaffing and inadequate staff training can result in staff members who are not aware of the resident’s physical and emotional needs. Sadly, nursing home neglect can and has resulted in the death of residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, make sure to be vigilant for signs of neglect. 

Signs of Dehydration in Nursing Home Patients

A National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform study found that nearly a third of nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on the age and health of a nursing home resident. The most common initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry or papery skin, dark colored urine, and a decrease in the urine production. If left untreated, dehydration can worsen and lead to sunken eyes and cheeks, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, delirium, and unconsciousness. Severe and persistent dehydration can lead to death.

Signs of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents

The average human body can go about three days without water and about three weeks without food. However, elderly individuals or those with a serious illness or disability are much more sensitive to dehydration and malnutrition than the average person is. Signs of malnutrition can include abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss, changes in how clothing fits, weakness, poor wound healing, and dental problems. Malnutrition in elderly nursing home residents can exacerbate existing health problems as well as cause a weakened immune system which increases the risk of infections. Decreased bone mass and muscle weakness due to malnutrition can make a nursing home resident more likely to fall and be seriously injured or killed.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNews outlets across the country are reporting one of the most disturbing nursing home abuse stories in recent years. A woman who is in a vegetative state after an incident where she nearly drowned has given birth to a child. Individuals who are in vegetative states generally have severe brain damage and lack true awareness of their surroundings. Needless to say, there is no way that a woman in this condition could have consented to having sex and getting pregnant.

The Phoenix-area nursing home in which the incident occurred was completely unaware that the resident was even pregnant until she went into labor. This horrific example of nursing home sexual abuse is, tragically, not an isolated incident. Thousands of innocent nursing home residents suffer every year from nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of nursing home or assisted living facility staff, you should know that there are steps you can take to recover compensation for damages and hold the perpetrators responsible.

Police Plan to Take DNA Samples from Nursing Home Staff

The Arizona nursing home in which the abuse occurred has been cooperating with authorities throughout the investigation. Police have taken DNA samples from the male employees at the nursing home which will then be compared to the DNA of the child in order to find his biological father. Detectives for the case also served the facility a search warrant to gather records and additional information. The 29-year-old victim who was impregnated is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The tribe's chairman expressed his feelings about the incident saying, "When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her."

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhile nursing homes are often seen as hospital-type facilities, a nursing home is not a hospital. Hospitals provide acute care for patients who require it, with doctors largely taking responsibility for overseeing each patient. A nursing home or skilled nursing facility provides 24-hour care at a comparatively lower level than that available in a hospital, with nurses generally providing patient oversight.

It is not uncommon for a patient in a nursing home to require hospitalization from time to time, but recent reports suggest that too many nursing home patients are being discharged from the hospital only to end up back in the hospital within 30 days. These readmissions are so concerning that the federal government has announced it would be altering Medicare payments to nearly 15,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities across the country based on how often residents went back to the hospital within a month of leaving. As a result, some 4,000 facilities will get bonuses while almost 11,000 will have their payments lowered.

Preventable Admissions

According to several analyses, the hospitalization of nursing home patients has been decreasing over the last few years. Experts say that in 2016, however, 11 percent of nursing home-to-hospital admissions could have been avoided with better medical care in the nursing facilities—many of which included patients who went back to the hospital after a prior admission and discharge

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAnyone who has placed their parent, grandparent, or loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can tell you that the transition is not always easy. The first holiday season away from home can be especially difficult for nursing home residents and their families. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or assisted living facility, and you plan to visit them this holiday season, the following tips may help your visit go more smoothly.

Let the Resident Dictate the Conversation

You may be unsure of how to approach visiting a loved one in a nursing home his holiday season. Should you acknowledge that it is Christmas soon or change the subject? Should you bring up memories from past holidays or focus on the here and now? The answer will depend both on the reason the resident is living in a long-term care facility as well as their personality.

Residents who struggle with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not understand or remember that the holidays are near. Other residents will be capable of enjoying long conversations about your holiday plans. Some individuals living in nursing homes do not want to be reminded that they are missing out on holiday traditions. The best course of action may be to simply let the resident dictate the conversation topic. If you sense your loved one is become anxious or agitated by a certain conversation, try changing the subject or giving him or her a break from the stimulation.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyIf you have a loved one who needs extra help with daily life tasks, you may find that moving him or her to a nursing home or assisted living facility gets them the round-the-clock care they need. Nursing homes are full of residents who have physical and cognitive disabilities. Many of these individuals may use a service animal to help them move about their daily lives safely. Even pets not officially trained as service animals can be a tremendous comfort to those struggling with illness or disability. If your loved one requires care from a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility, will he or she be able to bring his or her pet into the long-term care facility? The answer is not always black and white.

Few Nursing Home Allow Animals to Cohabitate with Residents

There are roughly 500,000 service dogs currently at work assisting people in the United States. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gave service animals, most often dogs, access to nearly every location their handler may want to go. The law made service animals exempt from rules which disallow animals from places like schools, movie theatres, or retail stores. Service dogs can be used to help visually impaired people interpret the world around them, alert hearing-impaired people to noises like smoke detectors or alarm clocks, and aide individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Some service animals can be trained to alert their handler to an oncoming seizure. Only a select number of long-term care facilities allow animals to live with their owners, but many allow animal visitation.

Bringing Pets to Visit Loved Ones in a Nursing Home May be Beneficial

Research from The Ohio State University in Columbus found that an impressive 99 percent of nursing homes surveyed allowed animal visitation. Healthy dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and hamsters are permitted in many nursing home facilities across the country. Most experts agree that elderly and disabled individuals can reap tremendous emotional benefits from safely interacting with animals.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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