One of the most difficult things millions of Americans face each year is placing their parents or other elders in a nursing home. It’s often a heart-wrenching decision. You want some assurance your loved one will receive humane treatment and care.
They do this with the trust that their loved one will be well taken care of. This trust is not unwarranted. Nursing homes are premised upon the assumption that your loved one will receive better care in a facility than they would on their own.
For many this is true. But unfortunately for some, it is not. When your loved one is victimized by the staff at a nursing home, you need a nursing home abuse attorney in Chicago to help you fight for your loved one’s rights.
As Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys, at the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo, LLC, we share your concern. We want to offer a number of suggestions to help you find a nursing home where your loved one will be treated with dignity and respect and receive attentive care.
What is Elder Law?
Elder law is a subset of personal injury law or tort law. In general, the elder law deals with the legal considerations of aging, such as end-of-life issues, guardianship and personal injury law as it relates to nursing home neglect.
Duties of a Nursing Home Attorney
An elder law attorney can provide assistance with any of the following:
The importance of wills and estate planning
Ensuring power of attorney
Healthcare planning, including long-term care options and patient rights
Nursing home rights and filing a claim
They also specialize in senior citizens, which leaves them better equipped to handle sensitive emotional and psychological matters for older adults.
Your Loved One Has Rights
Any resident of a Medicare or Medicaid-certified nursing home has a number of rights and protections under both federal and state law. These rights should be explained in writing at the time someone is admitted to the nursing home.
It should continue to be explained in a way that said resident can understand throughout the term of their stay. Residents must own a copy of their rights in writing and acknowledge that they understand them.
Yet, however standardized these regulations attempt to be, there are still many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect on our nation’s elderly.
Around 1.4 million Americans live in nursing homes and as the population ages and baby boomers become elders, this number is only expected to increase.
A congressional report conducted over a 2-year period found that nearly 1 in 3 nursing homes were cited for violations, with the potential to cause harm. On the other hand, almost 10 percent had violations that caused actual harm or even death.
Another survey found that up to 44 percent of nursing home residents reported having been abused at some point during their residency. These awful numbers have caught the attention of state legislatures, prompting anti-elder-abuse laws in all 50 states.
However, sadly, nursing home abuse continues to occur and often goes unreported.
Don’t Go Through It Alone
If you suspect nursing home abuse, you don’t have to go through it alone. This can be a confusing time. You entrusted the care of your loved one to the nursing home and their staff. And they have let you down.
It can be difficult to believe and may leave you in denial or search for answers that aren’t there. When you are in this state of mind, it’s best not to handle the case on your own. You need the assistance of an experienced nursing home abuse attorney in Chicago so you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you the compensation your loved one deserves. With the help of an attorney, you can get the case settled, while still giving your loved one the attention he or she needs in this difficult time.
Examples of Nursing Home Neglect
Imagine rushing to the hospital after getting a call that your elderly parent has had a stroke. Upon arriving, you find that not only do they no longer have a long-term care policy, but their financial assets have been signed over to a stranger.
This is where a nursing home attorney can help you.Senior abuse and neglect can take many forms, but it’s widely underreported – only 1 in 14 domestic abuse cases and 1 in 25 financial exploitation cases come to the attention of state and local authorities.
Knowing what some of these forms are will help you know when you have the right to pursue legal action. Here are a few common examples of types of elder abuse. If you’re concerned about someone’s well being, it’s always a good idea to ask what your options are.
In many cases, you put your elderly parent in a nursing home to make sure they are taking the correct doses of medication at the right times for their own safety. A nursing home is responsible for making sure overdoses, underdoses, incorrect administration, or confusion of medications do not occur. If any of these happen, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
This is the most common form of elder abuse and can include undue influence, theft and forgery.
Inappropriate or Wrongful Care
Any form of care that leads to illness or injury is grounds for a lawsuit and can include everything from sepsis to bedsores, to medication errors.
Residents of a nursing home rely on their caregivers to provide the appropriate level of supervision and care. If their failure to do so results in life-threatening injuries, you have the right to sue.
Many of the nursing home neglect problems arise from a failure to adequately care for and supervise the residents of the home. Cutting staff is one of the most common ways for facilities to reduce costs, despite the fact that there are laws in place to prevent such actions. Their lack of staff has a serious cost, as many instances of nursing home neglect arise when staff does not adequately supervise and care for their residents.
Verbal Belittlement and Harassment
Emotional neglect and abuse are just as much of a concern as physical and financial abuse. Verbal belittlement is one of the most common examples. It may seem small, but it can result in serious emotional and psychological trauma. Depression and anxiety are both signs of trauma and every senior has the right to feel safe.
If you believe that your loved one died as a result of poor care at the hands of a nursing home, it is imperative that you seek legal action as soon as possible.
3 Steps to Take if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
It’s easy to see nursing homes as giant and untouchable entities. If you take this view, it’s likely that you will fail to realize that you can fight back against elder abuse when it happens to you or your loved ones. When it comes to nursing home abuse, Illinois protects its residents, as does the United States. These facilities are federally regulated and if there is abuse happening, you are within your rights to seek recourse. But before you take legal action, you need to act to protect your loved one and other senior citizens from the facility. It’s vital you stay vigilant and call a nursing home attorney in Chicago if you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse.
Until you can talk to a legal professional, be sure to take these steps:
1.Help Your Loved One File a Complaint
Nursing home residents are legally entitled to file a complaint with their nursing home. Staff is legally required to make reasonable accommodations to deal with these complaints. As mentioned, nursing home abuse tends to be underreported. Among the reasons for this is that many residents fear retribution from staffers. Your presence will be reassuring to your loved one, who may fear his or her caretakers.
If the nursing home is being negligent, you’ll be able to hold them accountable by being an advocate for your loved one.
It’s likely that more than just your relative is being put at risk: this abuse is often systematic. Filing a report is the best way to put a stop to it and protect all families.
2. Look Into New Nursing Homes
It always helps to have options. If you suspect nursing home abuse, you don’t want to be left without a place for your loved one to stay. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides information on finding a caretaker for your loved one.
Read their publication on choosing a nursing home. At the new facility, visit as frequently as possible to make sure your relative isn’t experiencing the same abuse in a different location.
3. Investigate Your Nursing Home
Medicare.gov provides information on all active nursing homes. If you do some digging, you can research the records of various nursing homes, including your own. Understanding their track record can help you decide when it may be time to call a nursing home attorney in Chicago.
Here Are The Things To Pay Attention to To Avoid Chicago Nursing Home Abuse
Oftentimes, the victims of elder abuse are also made to feel that they will not be believed when they discuss their experiences. Make sure you take these steps to prevent your relatives from being victims of nursing home abuse.
Know what options you have if your relative is being victimized.
Visit More Than One Nursing Home So You Can Make Comparisons
There is a lot of difference in staffing level, the cleanliness of the facility and the attitude of the people who work there between nursing homes.
You might want to spend some time there, just looking around and not just on a tour where the facility might be trying to put its best foot forward. Check when their guard is down. Doing your homework is one of the best ways to make sure you can avoid Chicago nursing home abuse.
Consider the Location
The nursing home should be close enough that you can visit often without having to drive hours each way. I always tell clients and friends: if you have a loved one in a Nursing Home, you should have a presence there.
Visit. Check in. If you have a question about your loved one’s condition or health, then ask questions. This is all easier if the Nursing Home is close to your home or work. It is also nice if it is in a good location for other family members or friends to visit too.
How Does the Place Smell?
The odors encountered are not always pleasant, but that’s sometimes unavoidable. Certain medications and diets sometimes make residents more gassy. As people age, they’re more likely to lose control of their bladder and bowels.
So, a faint unpleasant whiff isn’t necessarily bad. But if the facility reeks of stale urine, that could mean the place is not properly cleaned. Some medical smells are to be expected in areas where very ill people are living or if they are bedridden.
But if the entire facility does not smell clean, then worry. Or worse, if it looks run down and does not look like it is cleaned regularly, you may be dealing with a facility that is just not attended to properly.
If they do not take care of the physical building, they are not likely to give your loved one the care they need.
What Sounds Do You Hear?
Hearing someone moaning or yelling “help” doesn’t necessarily indicate bad care. It could just be an indication of patient dementia. Instead, listen to how the staff addresses residents. Do they speak respectfully or do they use demeaning names?
Listen to how they talk to address the nursing home residents. Are they being nice, or being short and ill-tempered? It isn’t an easy job, but patience is required.
If everyday interactions with the old or sick people in a Nursing Home are short and aggressive or just unpleasant while they are being watched, this is not an encouraging sign. The language and actions are likely to worsen when no one is watching.
You do not want your family member to be a victims of nursing home abuse.
Does the Facility Conduct Background Checks On Its Employees?
Under federal law, elder care facilities must not hire people who have committed violent acts against patients. Unfortunately, the law does not require the use of any specific type of background checks. The choice is up to each nursing home and they may not bother to check.
I know that this isn’t fair to say, because plenty of people who get into some trouble with the law are very nice people. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes, someone just made a mistake when they were young. Not everyone who gets into some trouble is violent. But this is why a good background check is essential. The facility needs to know if a person has been convicted of a crime and if so, whether the crime is something relatively innocuous like possession of marijuana or curfew violation.
Or, whether a person was convicted of assault and battery, or aggravated assault charges. These folks may not have the patience to tend to older folks in a nursing home who may be suffering from bedsores, or who cannot move around themselves too well.
These kinds of nursing home residents need understanding and cooperation.
How Do Residents Spend Their Afternoons?
Quality nursing homes have a daily calendar of activities for residents. If your loved one is room-bound, activities should be brought to them. Obviously, nursing homes are not vacation resorts and the physical limitations of the residents limit what they can do.
Different residents have different capabilities and those capabilities dictate what they can offer by way of entertainment. But a nursing home should not be a human warehouse, where people are placed and forgotten.
When the body fails, the mind needs stimulation. When the mind goes, people still need human contact, compassion and connection.
What Happens If I Run Out of Funds?
If my resources are exhausted, are you certified to accept Medicaid? It is important to line up how the nursing home is going to be paid for.
The last thing you want to happen is that someone in your family gets their work hours reduced or they get laid off. And now, in addition to the household stress of a decrease in income, you have to worry about a nursing home hounding you for not making payments.
To the extent possible, use insurance, disability insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or other programs to ensure a stable flow of payment. This is so that if your loved one is being well cared for, they can stay there without disruption.
For many of us, when we get older, change is hard for us. It is upsetting for older folks. Making sure the dollars and cents are taken care of keeps them in a stable nursing home facility. It reduces their stress and yours. You can get more advice from the Illinois Department of Public Health here.
Know The Signs
Nursing home abuse is happening all across America. The reason it’s so common and underreported is that people often don’t know what to suspect. People committing nursing home abuse are dependent upon the fact that the victims won’t be believed (due to the decline in mental faculties associated with aging.) Or, they believe the victim will be too humiliated to speak up. It’s what makes this crime so widespread — but also so sickening. If they suspect nursing home abuse, Illinois residents can fight back by knowing the signs.
Silence and Isolation
As we said, the reason so many nursing homes and nursing home workers feel entitled to commit this abuse is the low likelihood of reporting. In some cases, it’s because of the mental faculties of residents.
A person may have Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or just be experiencing senility. In any case, these conditions will make it a lot harder for residents to articulate abuse. Another reason is the humiliation associated with reporting abuse.
The psychological trauma associated with the abuse suffered in nursing homes can make it a lot harder to report the incident or incidents. In either case, if your loved one is less talkative and seeks isolation repeatedly, there is very likely a reason for it.
Bed Sores or Injuries
Unexplained injuries are a telltale symptom of physical abuse being experienced in a nursing home. Senior citizens are a lot less likely than the average person to engage in a strenuous physical activity.
It is possible that a fall or a bumped knee could be to blame for a bruise or welt on an elderly person. But it’s more likely a sign of nursing home abuse Illinois residents should dread seeing. Bed sores, like bruises, can also be a symptom of nursing home abuse.
These are more likely to be ignored because people tend to think of them as the result of aging and being less mobile. But they often signify something darker. In either case, you should ask what’s happening to your relatives.
Dehydration, Weight Loss, Or Lack of Sanitation
There is absolutely no reason for anybody to be dehydrated in a nursing home. Dehydration, as we all know, happens because you have not consumed enough water. In a nursing home, attendants are supposed to make sure their patients are consuming the water they need. This is what makes dehydration a sign of nursing home abuse Illinois residents need to be aware of. If your relative is dehydrated, your relative is neglected. Weight loss and unsanitary conditions are also serious warning signs.
If your relative is not being fed or is not having their room cleaned, they are likely being neglected. Neglect is one of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse. That makes it absolutely essential that people know these signs.
Unfortunately, this is often the end result of elder abuse. When it comes to nursing home abuse, Illinois residents need to know the signs. After all, older bodies can take a lot less harm or neglect than those of younger people. That means that older people are far more likely to be killed by the abuse they experience than their younger counterparts – so don’t wait to see the signs.
How a Nursing Home Attorney Can Help
Dealing with elder abuse can be a frightening time for all involved. A nursing home attorney can help you keep your peace of mind and make sure your loved one receives the care and compensation they deserve.
The best way to build a case of neglect or abuse is to visit frequently and report early, as many of the markers used to signify nursing home abuse and neglect are time sensitive (such as injuries). You should record evidence of abuse and report it to local and state authorities. You can use the resource page on the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and contact members of your loved one’s immediate healthcare team (if they are not involved in the neglect). Once reported, you can seek legal counsel to determine how to proceed. They can help you build a case and determine how to proceed.
Questions to Ask
When seeking a nursing home attorney, you should have a few questions in mind, including:
What percentage of your time is devoted to elder law?
Do you have an area of specialty within elder law?
What information will I need for our first meeting?
How are your fees computed?
All of these questions will help ensure that you find an attorney who specializes in the area most important to you and make sure that you are prepared when you begin to compile a case.
Injury Case Q&A
Now, we are going to answer Robert’s question about his dad’s stay at a nursing home where he took a fall.
“Hi, my name is Robert. My father is a resident at a nursing home and he fell out of bed and hurt his arm. I am not sure what happened but he has problems walking and he has fallen a lot before he fell at the nursing home. Is this a case? What should we do? What is our first step? Thanks, Mr. DeSalvo.”
Thanks for the question Robert. You know, nursing home cases are very good cases.
You might think that the fact that your dad had lots of falls before going into the nursing home makes it a tougher case because his injury at the nursing home involves a fall – it is actually the exact opposite. When an elderly person or an ill person goes into a nursing home, the nursing home has to do a fall assessment risk. The assessment is in writing, so it should be in your dad’s hospital records or nursing home medical records. When the nursing home knows somebody has a problem with falling, they actually assess them for the risk and then there are safeguards that they are supposed to take. Now, if they didn’t follow those safeguards or didn’t do a fall assessment and if your dad falls and hurts himself under the care of the nursing home, that is a really great case. It absolutely is a case that can be proven.
I don’t think you mentioned how bad your dad got hurt, but even if it is a minor injury, you don’t entrust your loved one into a nursing home for theme to only break the rules in a way that results in your loved one being hurt. Whether it is a big case or a small case, there is compensation for your father. I would encourage that you definitely to talk to a lawyer just based on the information you’ve given me. Of course, you can call me or speak with any other attorney that you are comfortable with. I would say you are better off going with an attorney who has some experience handling nursing home cases because they can be a little bit more complicated than, for example, a car crash case. However, it’s a solid case and you should do something.
I hope your dad is okay and I hope this information helps you. For the rest of you viewers out there, if you have any questions that you would like me to answer on YouTube or privately, you can send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Count on Experience
A qualified nursing home abuse attorney in Chicago will have handled a vast number of cases similar to yours. Their expertise can be invaluable in determining the best course of action to take and what compensation to seek.
They won’t allow you to aim higher than you deserve, only to be disappointed by the final result. A lawyer can keep your expectations grounded and help you move forward on the path to healing.
Get Help From The Law Offices Of Scott D. DeSalvo, LLC
If you think your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect then you need the help of a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer. This is a systematic problem precisely because legal recourse is not taken nearly enough.
Meanwhile, senior citizens are being hurt, humiliated and even killed at alarming rates. Elder abuse is one of our areas of specialty. This problem is important to us because we believe our elders need to be treated with respect and dignity at all stages of life. We also believe that families should be able to trust nursing homes to guide our loved ones through their golden years. We want to help make these beliefs a reality in the state of Illinois. If you suspect or know that your loved one is the victim of elder abuse, contact us immediately.
No one should have to deal with a case of nursing home abuse alone. A consultation with us is free and can take place in person or over the telephone.
A nursing home abuse lawyer understands the rights that should be afforded to residents and can assess whether or not those rights are being violated. Their expertise in the field will allow you to build the strongest case for your loved one so they receive the treatment they deserve.
Don’t let the nursing home abuse go unreported. Contact the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo, LLC and get the legal counsel you need. Call us today to get your case started. If you or a loved one has been hurt or have questions about an injury case, I offer injured people a copy of my FREE Injury DVD and Book. Just call me at my 24/7/365 toll-free number 888-HURT-318 (888-487-8318) and ask for the free injury book.
Give us your name and mailing address and I will mail it to you free of charge and with no obligation. If you are ready to talk, call that same number and ask to speak with me!
WOULDN’T TRUST MY CASE WITH ANY OTHER LAWYER!
"I like Mr. DeSalvo. He is very good with his work and very professional. I knew...