At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, we assist clients in obtaining compensation for the damages caused by negligent caregivers, long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Neglect in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may result in catastrophic injury and even death. That is why it is urgent that you seek legal representation from an elder neglect lawyer if you suspect that you or your loved one are suffering from neglect or abuse.
Consider speaking with an elder neglect lawyer from our firm. You can discuss your situation in a free, confidential consultation. We can answer questions and concerns you may have. In addition, we can help you understand your potential legal options. Get legal help today.
How Our Elder Neglect Lawyers Can Help
First, during a free consultation, an elder neglect attorney from our firm will listen to your situation. Secondly, he or she can answer any questions you may have. Then, he or she can help you to understand your legal options, if any.
Your nursing home neglect attorney can investigate your situation for signs of elder neglect and/or abuse. If you have a viable claim, your attorney will gather and evaluate crucial evidence. This will help you build a solid case against the responsible party. Then, your attorney may be able to help you hold the nursing home or assisted-living facility accountable.
When you retain the services of our dedicated elder neglect lawyers, you gain access to extensive knowledge, resources and skill in elder neglect and abuse. We have extensive experience and success advocating for elder abuse and neglect victims throughout California. Request a free consultation.
Types of Elder Neglect
Elder neglect can occur in many forms. Below, our nursing home neglect lawyers explain a few common types of neglect:
- Physical Neglect: This occurs when a caregiver fails to provide the necessary physical care and assistance to meet an elderly person's basic needs. It may involve inadequate nutrition, hydration, hygiene, or failure to provide necessary medical treatment or medications.
- Emotional or Social Neglect: Emotional neglect refers to the failure to address an elderly person's emotional needs, resulting in feelings of loneliness, isolation, or emotional distress. Social neglect involves isolating the individual from social interactions and activities, leading to social withdrawal and decreased quality of life.
- Medical Neglect: This type of neglect involves a failure to provide adequate medical care and attention to an older adult. It may include ignoring or delaying medical treatment, not administering prescribed medications, or neglecting to address health concerns or chronic conditions properly.
- Personal Hygiene Neglect: Personal hygiene neglect occurs when a caregiver neglects or fails to assist with an older adult's personal care needs, such as bathing, grooming, oral hygiene, or changing into clean clothes. It can result in discomfort, health issues, or a decline in self-esteem.
- Environmental Neglect: Environmental neglect refers to unsafe or unsanitary living conditions for an older adult. It can involve inadequate heating or cooling, poor sanitation, pest infestations, cluttered or hazardous living spaces, and lack of necessary home repairs or maintenance.
- Financial Neglect: Financial neglect occurs when someone takes advantage of an elderly person's financial resources or fails to provide for their financial needs. This can include unauthorized use of funds, withholding money, mismanaging assets, or preventing access to financial resources.
Falls in Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities
When an elderly person is physically unable to stand up or walk on his or her own, he or she becomes dependent on caregivers to help. Most falls in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are preventable. So, one or more falls may be a sign of elder neglect.
Long term care facilities should have protocols in place to reduce the risk of falls, such as:
- Continually assessing each resident’s risk for falling
- Monitoring at-risk residents
- Providing fall-prevention equipment to at-risk residents
- Installing alarms to alert staff when at-risk residents need assistance
- Training staff in fall-prevention techniques
- Ensuring the facility is adequately staffed to monitor residents
Seniors Are at High-Risk of Dehydration & Malnutrition
Senior citizens are more susceptible to suffer from dehydration and malnutrition than younger adults. This is due to factors that include:
- A decrease in the body’s ability to conserve water;
- Mobility issues that make it difficult to obtain food and water without assistance;
- Medications that cause dehydration and loss of appetite as side effects;
- Difficulty swallowing water and food;
- Health concerns that require a restricted diet; and
- Illness or medical issues that cause vomiting, diarrhea or increased urination.
Individuals suffering from any of these difficulties require ongoing assistance to ensure adequate hydration and nutrition. Nursing home or assisted living staff should be trained to handle these circumstances. When these basic necessities are neglected, serious health problems or even death could occur.
What is Dehydration and Malnutrition?
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it brings in. When this process occurs, your body may not have enough water to carry on its normal everyday functions.
Malnutrition occurs when the body does not receive or absorb the nutrients it needs, either by not getting enough to eat or eating foods that lack proper nutrients.
Dehydration refers to excessive loss of water from the body. It can result in serious health issues, especially for older adults. It may relate to:
- Kidney and urinary problems;
- Blood clots;
- Hypovolemic shock; and
- In extreme cases, dehydration can even cause death.
Certain individuals may be more susceptible to dehydration due to:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mobility issues, making it difficult to obtain water without assistance
- Dietary restrictions
- Illness or medical conditions that cause vomiting, diarrhea or increased urination
- Medications that cause dehydration
- Refusal to regularly intake fluids
Nursing home and assisted-living facilities should have hydration programs for at-risk individuals. This type of program helps to ensure that at-risk residents receive:
- Help with fluid intake
- Fluid intake and output monitoring and recording
- Monitoring for dehydration symptoms
Unfortunately, dehydration often occurs as a direct result of elder neglect. Failing to recognize and monitor an at-risk resident for dehydration may be neglect and a sign of elder abuse. For example, this situation may occur if there is:
- Inadequate staffing
- Inadequate training and education about dehydration
- Failure to monitor and record fluid intake and output
- Reliance on liquid supplements to meet nutritional and hydration needs
A diet lacking adequate vitamins, proteins and minerals may lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition can be detrimental and even deadly to seniors. For example, without proper monitoring, a person in a long-term care setting can become easily malnourished.
Many factors may cause malnutrition, including, but not limited to:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dietary restrictions
- Mobility issues, making it difficult to obtain food without assistance
- Medications that cause lack of appetite
There are several factors used to assess the risk of someone becoming malnourished. For example, factors include:
- Advanced age
- Cognitive decline
- Poor dental health
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty chewing
Similar to the effects of dehydration, malnutrition can cause serious health concerns. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), malnutrition can lead to:
- A poor immune system. A poor immune system can in turn make it difficult to fight off illnesses and heal infections and wounds.
- Muscle and bone weakness. Muscle and bone weakness then leaves the body susceptible to falls, fractures and breaks.
- Poor organ health. Malnutrition can lead to poor eye health, kidney health and memory loss.
Malnutrition can also result in it taking longer for an individual to heal from illnesses and injuries. There are also more risks when surgery is performed and hospital stays are generally longer and more expensive.
Symptoms of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Elderly Adults
Unlike the signs of physical abuse, it is difficult to catch early signs of dehydration and malnutrition in elderly adults.
According to the Mayo Clinic, look for symptoms including:
- Increased hunger or thirst;
- Weight loss;
- Infrequent urination; or
- Irregular bowel movements.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, your loved one could be suffering from dehydration or malnutrition. Seek medical attention right away if the symptoms persist. Then, we recommend speaking with a San Jose elder neglect attorney about your situation.
How to Prove Dehydration & Malnutrition Cases?
Proving nursing home neglect will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation. However, a few important factors to consider include proving that the nursing home or assisted living facility had a duty to provide basic care to your loved one and proving that they neglected to provide that basic care.
- A medical professional can determine whether your loved one is suffering from dehydration or malnutrition. A trail of medical records that describe your loved one’s symptoms and diagnosis can be vital to a nursing home neglect case.
- It is also necessary to prove that the nursing home or assisted living facility has a duty to provide basic care to your loved one. This could include a contract or an obligation by law.
It is important to note that these are just a couple of factors to consider when pursuing a nursing home neglect claim. A nursing home neglect lawyer can help you understand whether you have a viable claim to recover damages. If you do have a viable claim, an attorney can help determine the best strategy for your case.
Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, are ulcers that form on areas of the skin that are under pressure. They can take months or even years to heal. As a result, they may lead to infection and require surgery to help the healing process. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, risk factors for bedsores include:
- Being unconscious
- Inability to sense pain
- Circulation problems
- Poor nutrition
Bedsores become a real risk when an individual does not or cannot change positions on his or her own. When this happens, the nursing home or assisted-living staff must change his or her position at regular intervals. When this is neglected, bedsores may form.
Medication is a necessity for elderly individuals. This becomes problematic when an individual is unable to remember to take it or becomes physically unable to take it on his or her own. When this happens, caregivers are responsible for giving them their prescription drugs. If caregivers are negligent administering medication, serious problems may arise.
The law requires that nurses and other caregivers must provide adequate healthcare services to their patients when they take on that role. When elders are neglected and/or abused by care providers, the following medication errors can occur:
- Medication administered without consent
- Incorrect dosage
- Incorrect medications
If you suspect your loved one has a lack of proper care in a long-term care facility or a nursing home, and that lack of proper care has resulted in medication errors, consider taking legal action. Our San Jose elder abuse attorneys are here to help you understand your potential legal options.
When there is a lack of supervision or security in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, it creates an unsafe environment for the residents. For example, residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia need constant supervision. These facilities should have alarms that notify staff when at-risk individuals exit their rooms or the facility.
An uncontrolled environment is unsafe and requires caregivers to be alert and attentive at all times. When proper supervision is not provided, it can result in injuries or death for a resident who goes wandering in or out of the facility.
More Signs of Elder Neglect in a Nursing Home
In addition to the signs discussed above, a few more signs of elder neglect may include:
- Poor hygiene
- Dirty clothes
- Dirty bedding
- Other unsanitary conditions
- Lack of staff at the facility
- Long delays in answering call lights
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Contact Our Lawyers for Nursing Home Neglect at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP
If you or your loved one are suffering from elder neglect in San Jose or the Bay Area, consider taking legal action. We are here to answer your questions and help you to understand your potential legal options.