New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney
New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
For most families, placing an elderly or disabled loved one in a nursing home is a very tough decision. Finding the right facility can be difficult and it often must be done amid the stress of a health crisis. And even after a careful choice, the family might find itself facing something more difficult: abuse and neglect in the nursing home.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that one in 20 nursing home patients suffers abuse or neglect, and the center says the actual number may be much higher because mistreatment often goes unreported. The issues include poor nutrition and neglected hygiene, medication issues, neglect of patients’ needs, and sometimes outright abuse. People with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, stroke and cardiac patients, people with mental illness or retardation, and people with limited mobility or inability to communicate may be particularly vulnerable and, sadly, may be unable to communicate about the kind of treatment they receive.
Staffing is a serious issue in many facilities. Many nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities are understaffed and personnel are poorly trained, creating the potential for neglect, as too few staff members must care for too many patients.
The Wall Street Journal reports that many nursing homes overuse antipsychotic drugs to control agitated patients, though these drugs increase the risk of death in patients with dementia. Some sleep medications are dangerous for nursing home residents because they cause disorientation and impair balance, increasing the risk of falls. A report last year in The New York Times said lack of proper dental care in nursing home patients can lead to serious health problems as well. Residents whose teeth are not cleaned regularly and who do not receive dental care can suffer pain, broken teeth, and gum disease, all of which may interfere with the inability to eat properly. The resident may develop infections, including pneumonia, when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Elder care advocates say the vigilance of family and friends is the best defense against abuse and neglect. Having regular visitors is important and visitors should be alert for signs of neglect and mistreatment. Those who see signs of mistreatment must act on them. Signs include bedsores; weight loss; frequent injuries, which can be the result of falls or rough handling by staff; poor hygiene; and fear or changes in the patient’s usual mood and demeanor.
Parker Waichman LLP has successfully assisted New Jersey families in their claims against negligent nursing homes and abusive staff members.
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