Caring for Nursing Home Residents with Dementia
As one enters the twilight of one’s life, tasks which were considered perfunctory start to become difficult. Additionally, mental acuity starts to decrease. Unfortunately, diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) can accelerate this decrease. Further, an elder individual’s family members may not be able to provide the necessary care for this family member, and may find it necessary to seek residence for their elderly loved one in a nursing home. And while many nursing homes provide quality care, in some cases, unfortunately, nursing home abuse occurs, usually by staff and other residents. Retaining the services of an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse is essential to ensure that any injuries are compensated for, as well as to ensure that a loved one is cared for properly. Recently, three employees at a Boynton Beach nursing home were charged with abusing and falsely imprisoning a resident suffering from AD by duct-taping her to a chair, and also duct-taping her mouth shut, preventing her from moving and pleading for help. A discussion of the specific laws applicable to nursing home employees tasked with assisting patients with AD, or related disorders of the mind, and common injuries that may indicate nursing home abuse, will follow below.
Regulations for Nursing Homes with AD-Affected Residents
Due to the delicate nature of those afflicted with AD, or other forms of dementia, Florida maintains special laws for nursing homes who treat residents in mental decline. Generally speaking, AD is a common form of dementia that typically occurs in patients over the age of 65. AD inhibits the patient’s cognitive abilities, which may cause problems with communication, daily activities, or maintaining meaningful relationships. As a result, those with AD need almost constant care. Further, because of the particularities of AD, those who provide care must undergo specific training.
Specifically, within the first three months of employment, any nursing home employee who is expected to have contact with a resident afflicted with AD must have training related to understanding dementia as well as how to communicate with one having dementia. Additionally, such employees must have continuing education throughout the first nine months of employment. This continuing education includes how to manage problem behaviors and how to promote the resident’s independence in activities of daily living, as well as providing skills allowing the employee to work with families and other caregivers.
Indications of Abuse
While AD does entail a general deterioration of the mind of the afflicted, there are some other mental signs that may indicate that the nursing home resident has been abused. Additionally, there are physical and other signs evidencing abuse. These signs include:
- Malnutrition or dehydration;
- Bedsores and/or poor hygiene;
- Bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns, pressure marks, broken bones, dry skin, or other physical injuries, especially if newly-discovered and unexplained;
- A significantly reduced ability or desire to communicate, or any other change in personality, such as withdrawal or depression;
- Rapidly-developing and newly-present health problems, including those that require additional medications or physician visits;
- Mood swings and other changes in behavior, including aggressiveness or agitation and flinching from physical contact;
- An increase in the onset or further development of AD, or other dementia;
- Antisocial behavior; and
- Unexplained financial problems.
Seek Legal Advice
If a loved one suffered abuse while resident at a nursing home, contact the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible to ascertain your options. Your loved one should not have to experience such abuse, your family should not have to see the effects of this abuse. The attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado have experience in nursing home abuse, and will be able to analyze your situation to determine the proper course of action to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.