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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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