CHICAGO, IL – Close to two-thirds of all US nursing home residents have some type of cognitive impairment, such as dementia, and the quality of care and quality of life of these people have been long called into question. Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous, especially in a nursing home setting. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when staff members are overworked, and poorly resourced care teams do not receive adequate training to evaluate struggling residents that may require extra supervision and management of medications, daily activities, and financial needs.
Signs of Dementia
It is important to know the signs of dementia to know when a resident should be moved from a nursing facility to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized living environment to keep them safe.
- Early Stage Memory Loss
One of the most common and prominent signs of dementia, especially in early stages, is forgetting information such as important dates or events, and asking the same questions repeatedly. Those who are in the early stage tend to have an increasingly need to rely on others to recall facts, people, or routines.
- Inability to Concentrate and Conversate
Some people who suffer from dementia may experience changes in their ability to concentrate and follow a plan or conversation. They may have trouble keeping up with the conversation or become confused. They may also begin to struggle with naming familiar objects, such as calling a “bed” a “table.”
- Falls Occur
Those with dementia have an increased likelihood of increased falls and hip fractures. Falls can happen when staff are not following protocol, such as needing two people present to move a resident from their wheelchair to bed. Severe bone fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are both common fall injuries that can lead to a decline in a person’s health.
- Wandering and Elopement
Six out of 10 people who suffer from dementia will wander and aimlessly attempt to move around the facility without regard for their personal safety. The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) have identified different types of wandering; such as, environmentally cued wandering, recreational wandering, agitated purposeful wandering, fantasy or reminiscent wandering, and elopement. According to NCCDP, elopement is the most dangerous type of wandering and occurs when a patient attempts to leave the nursing home altogether and wander outside.
- Growing Difficulty with Simple Tasks
As dementia progresses, the ability to perform daily tasks such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, and socializing decreases.
- General Confusion Over Visits and Appointments
As stated early, those who suffer from dementia begin to lose track of important dates and events, like holidays, or forget a family member is coming to visit. They begin to start struggling to understand where they are, why they are there, and how they got there.
- Misplacing Items
Your loved one may begin to lose items or put them in an unusual place. They likely will not be able to retrace their steps as their memory decreases. They may also accuse others of stealing or misplace important personal items, especially as the disease progresses.
- Changes in Mood, Personality, and Sound Judgement
Individuals may experience difficult changes in judgement and decision making. Mood and personality changes can happen to someone with dementia and early-stage Alzheimer’s. Individual’s become easily confused, fearful, suspicious, anxious, or depressed.
Nursing Homes Response to Residents with Dementia
In a recent study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s are at a greater risk of experiencing abuse. Abuse can exist in many forms such as caregiver neglect, psychological abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, self-neglect, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation.
The most common facilitators were the introduction of policies and programs in the facility, education, and working conditions. The most cited barriers were poor training, working conditions in a long-term care setting, and a lack of research. The growing population could increase this problem exponentially, researchers stated.
Current abuse continues because of detection and prevention issues; however, another issue is that 80 percent of elder abuse goes unreported.
How to Prevent Abuse
The best way to prevent and abuse is to keep yourself educated of the sign and symptoms so you know what to look for, and attentively listen to residents, especially those who are most vulnerable that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. By creating a culture in which nursing home staff members report all suspected abuse, organizations are able to increase their chances of identifying and rectifying abuse behaviors quickly.
Facilities need to offer training and better screening processes for employees to identify and recognize resident issues. They must also diligently hire staff who are fit to care for older adults and train staff to recognize and report suspected abuse. Dementia professionals must also be educated and on high-alert to the risks associated with dementia-ridden residents and their likelihood of being exposed to abuse and neglect.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It can be difficult and traumatic to discover that you or a loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and are unsure about your future. If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused due to suffering from a cognitive impairment, the Dinizulu Law Group will help you understand common situations and signs that something is wrong.
The Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. has extensive knowledge and resources in this area of the law and provide highly personalized service by working closely with clients throughout every step of the process. Our attorneys have represented hundreds of individuals and families in making claims against abusive nursing home facilities and have helped them receive the compensation they deserve. Please call our office to schedule a free consultation at (312) 384-1920 or visit our website for more information.