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b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-old-lady-nursing-home.jpgWhen you place your loved one into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, you have every right to expect that they will be treated with dignity, respect, and above all, proper care. After all, nursing homes are staffed with trained professionals who are supposed to care about the people who are residents of their facility. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Elderly abuse and nursing home negligence do occur in far too many facilities around the country, including here in Northern Illinois.

According to the Illinois State Police, more than 100,000 elderly persons are housed in long-term care facilities in Illinois. This number is only expected to grow in the coming years as Americans continue to live longer than they did in the past. Recent research conducted by a variety of academic organizations suggests that more than 12,000 of those patients will be neglected or abused each year. In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important for you to visit regularly and look for any indications that something may be wrong. Pay close attention to see if your loved one shows signs of:

  • Fear of the nursing home staff. Your loved one may also express concern about being left alone with caregivers;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition not related to terminal illness or end-stage disease;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, especially if hygiene has been important to your loved one before;
  • Dirty or torn clothing or bedding;
  • Lack of dental care;
  • Fatigue, listlessness, and other indications of depression; or
  • Symptoms of missed medication or excessive use of medication.

In addition to the above signs, any sickness or injury that cannot be easily explained should also be reported. Approximately 30 percent of all nursing facilities nationwide have been cited for instances of abuse, but many more are believed to go unreported. In addition, financial abuse is often common. Check each bill carefully to be sure your loved one is not being billed for services that have not been rendered, or that he or she is not being billed for several services that should be combined into a single billing.

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyerIllinois law dictates that individuals receiving treatment at a nursing home be free from abuse and neglect. Tragically, because of issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training, nursing home neglect and abuse continue to occur. Often nursing home abuse does not look like other forms of abuse. One way nursing home and assisted living residents are cruelly mistreated is with unreasonable restraint.

Most long-term care facilities have patients with cognitive or medical problems who may occasionally need to be restrained from moving. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dramatically overusing both physical and chemical restraints. Residents can suffer physical injuries as well as emotional scars from unreasonable restraint. Unwarranted restraint is a major violation of the rights of the nursing home patient. If you or a loved one has been unreasonably restrained, you may be entitled to compensation.

Physical Restraints Without Justification is Abuse

Residents in a nursing home should be treated with compassion and given as much autonomy as safely possible. Unscrupulous or ignorant nursing home staff may use chemical and physical restraints as a means of keeping “high maintenance” residents subdued. Physical means of restraining residents include items such as straps, ties, bed guardrails, tightly-tucked sheets, and arm and hand restraints. Any type of physical force that restricts a resident’s movement is considered restraint as well. Physically restraining a patient should be reserved only for times a resident presents a risk to himself or others. If physical restraints are used excessively or in a way which causes a resident injury, this may be considered abuse.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysImagine you are a resident in a nursing home. Perhaps you are recovering from an invasive surgery, have had limbs amputated, or are elderly and suffering from other ailments. Now imagine that the place you have called home during your recovery no longer welcomes you and you are forced to pack your things and leave. This is the reality for many nursing home residents who are evicted from nursing homes every year. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents and their families are unaware of the rights which residents have.

Changes in Insurance Leave Some Residents Unable to Pay Nursing Home Costs

About 14 million people are currently living in nursing homes across the country. Many of these residents are ill or injured and others have mental incapacities such as dementia with disallow them to care for themselves. These individuals require round-the-clock care and supervision. Unfortunately, nursing homes often evict residents for unjustified reasons. Sometimes, it is because a change in insurance, such as switching from Medicare to Medicaid, means that the resident can no longer afford to stay at the nursing home. Discharges and evictions have been the top-ranking category of grievances brought to state long-term care regulators programs in recent years. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are unaware of their rights and leave without challenging an eviction or discharge.

Tony Chicotel, a lawyer at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, explains “The nursing homes, they know the system and they really game it to where they maximize their advantage.” Federal regulators are now looking for ways to enforce federal laws which protect nursing home residents. Evictions or discharges can greatly damage a resident’s well-being. Because nursing home residents are already ill or elderly, moving them against their will can be dangerous to their physical health as well as their psychological health.

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