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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse is a tragic reality. Everyone hopes that nursing home staff will treat their loved ones with the respect and compassion that they deserve. Sadly, not all nursing home staff meet this expectation. Physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident. However, residents with cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often particularly at risk for abuse. Even worse, such residents are often not capable of telling anyone about the abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may take the form of hitting, slapping, pinching, or kicking. It may also take the form of rough handling residents when transferring them in and out of beds or wheelchairs. If your loved one has bruises, cuts, or other physical injuries that staff cannot explain, this may be a sign that the staff have abused him or her. Of course, not every physical injury is a sign of abuse. Sometimes, an injury is simply the result of the resident bumping against furniture. However, if staff members seem agitated by your concerns or refuse to discuss your loved one’s injuries with you, this may be a sign that they have something to hide.

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Sadly, some nursing home staff intentionally scare, embarrass, or isolate residents. If your loved one exhibits signs of fear toward staff – especially if the fear is directed at a particular staff member- this may be a sign of abuse. Sudden changes in behavior or child-like behaviors like rocking and thumb sucking may also be signs of abuse. Suffers of Alzheimer’s and dementia often become confused and believe that someone is harming them even if they are not actually in danger. However, it is important to believe your loved one and investigate any reports of mistreatment or signs of abuse.

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IL nursing home lawyerFew would argue that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are some of the most tragic illnesses imaginable. These illnesses affect a sufferer’s memory, personality, and cognition. Nursing home residents with dementia are often at a higher risk of being neglected or abused for a variety of reasons. Many times, they are also unable to report this abuse. Because of this, it is crucial for loved ones to be vigilant for signs that could indicate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Wandering is a Life-Threatening Concern for Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease

Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease can lead to severe confusion and agitation. Some sufferers do not realize that they are in a nursing home for their own benefit. They may believe that they need to “escape” the facility to avoid harm. They may also accidentally wander out of the facility or into dangerous areas within the facility. Just recently, a nursing home resident suffering from dementia was discovered in the facility’s walk-in freezer. Sadly, the elderly woman had passed away by the time authorities located her. Nursing home staff have a moral obligation as well as a legal duty to supervise residents at risk of wandering and elopement. If a nursing home’s negligence leads to a resident’s injury or death, the facility may be liable for damages.

Unreasonable Restraint and Intentional Abuse

Another major concern for nursing home residents with dementia is the risk of unreasonable restraint. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act states that no resident may be physically or chemically restrained as a “punishment” or for the staff’s convenience. Unfortunately, this does not stop many nursing homes from using physical restraints or chemical sedation for exactly these purposes.

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse lawyersCognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are extremely common in older adults. These diseases may start out with subtle symptoms and then progress into devastatingly severe symptoms. A person with advanced dementia may not even seem like the same person anymore. For families of elders with cognitive illnesses, watching their loved ones suffer can be almost unbearable. Many families eventually decide to place their loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility so that he or she can receive the medical care and attention he or she needs. Sadly, some nursing home residents with cognitive diseases become victims of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Red Flags of Nursing home Abuse and Neglect

A nursing home resident suffering from a brain disease may be unable to articulate his or her feelings, thoughts, and needs. This is why it is crucial for families to be vigilant for signs that their loved one is being mistreated. Look for physical signs of trauma such as scratches, bruises, bed sores, burns, dislocations, and other injuries. Also be watchful for signs that a resident is being physically or chemically restrained. Federal laws as well as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act prohibit nursing home staff from unreasonably restraining a resident. Restraints that restrict a resident’s movement or medications that sedate a resident must only be used when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the use of restraints must be ordered by a physician who documents the reasons for using the restraints.

Talk to Staff About Your Concerns

If you go to visit your loved one, and he or she has a new bruise or other injury, nursing home staff should be able to tell you what happened. If your loved one is being supervised as closely as he or she should, staff should be aware of any injuries or illnesses he or she is suffering from. In some cases, residents with dementia may become afraid and confused. They may think that nursing home staff are “out to get them” or otherwise have unfounded anger or fear toward nursing home staff. Residents may tell their loved ones that they are not receiving food or medication because they simply cannot remember the last time they took their medication or ate a meal. Even though dementia sufferers can often be mistaken, you should still take their fears and concerns seriously. If staff quickly dismiss your concerns or seem hesitant to discuss your loved one’s care, this could be a warning sign that your loved one is receiving substandard care.

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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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Illnois nursing home abuse attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are generally populated with older individuals and people with disabilities. Some residents have physical disabilities and decreased motor function while others are afflicted by mental disability or illness. Many residents suffer from both mental and physical limitations, making them especially vulnerable to illness or injury. Understandably, nursing home staff occasionally have to restrain nursing home residents in order to protect the resident from himself or herself. Things like bed rails or lap cushions can be used to ethically restrict a resident’s movement. Chemical restraints like sedatives may become necessary in extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, a new study shows that many nursing homes are dramatically over-using chemical restraints for nursing home residents with dementia.

Major Report Shows Extent of Chemical Restraint Abuse

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently presented its annual Public Service Award in recognition of the Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.” This report includes extensive data collected from over one hundred nursing homes regarding the misuse of antipsychotic medication like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa in nursing homes. Medications such as these are designed to treat major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, these medications are being prescribed to elderly residents who do not have one of these disorders as a means of sedating them. Even worse, these antipsychotic medications have been found to nearly double the risk of death in elderly patients.

The report estimates that a staggering 179,000 nursing home residents are chemically-restrained with unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each week in the United States. Residents who were given antipsychotic drugs described the effects as “powerful.” One woman explained that the pills made her sleep all day while another said they made her a “zombie” with “no personality.” Experts say that the overuse of antipsychotic drugs can have devastating consequences to elderly individuals’ health and quality of life.

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