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Articles Posted in Nursing Home and Elder Abuse

Elderly family members may need more care and attention, since they may be vulnerable to injury, elder abuse, and other issues. If you have an elderly loved one living in your Homestead or Florida home, there are several things you will want to do to make sure that everyone in your family is protected in the event of an emergency:

1) Create a disaster preparedness plan for your elderly relatives.

If you have loved ones in an assisted living facility or nursing home, do you have a plan in place to keep them safe from elder abuse or nursing home abuse and neglect? If a tornado or other natural disaster were to hit your Homestead home, how would you contact elderly loved ones and keep them safe? Would your family members be able to escape in the event of a fire? Develop a plan to keep everyone in your family safe. If elderly loved ones live with you, this may mean making your home more accessible or contacting your fire department to ensure that your home would permit elderly family members to get out in the event of a fire or other disaster.

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Elder abuse in Homestead is unfortunately quite common and affects hundreds of families across South Florida each year. If you have an elderly loved one, you will want to make sure that your family member is protected from neglect and abuse in Homestead nursing homes and elder care facilities. Neglect and abuse can easily occur in a nursing home or assisted living facility or even in the home with a family-based caregiver. If you’re wondering how safe your loved ones are, keep in mind that you will want to ask yourself the following questions:

1) How much have you researched the facility or caregiver? Before hiring anyone to take care of a family member or before placing a family member in any assisted-living facility or nursing home, it is important to investigate the person or persons who will be providing care. This means doing research, checking for any prior history of abuse or negligence, and conducting a thorough investigation to make sure that the caregiver is well-equipped to handle the care required. If you are placing your loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you may want to speak to other families and visit the nursing home several times before you make a decision about care.

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2) Are there any signs of abuse or neglect? Unexplained injuries, unexplained slip and fall accidents in Homestead, and withdrawal or signs of depression can all indicate neglect or abuse. In some cases, abuse is evident in bruises and broken bones. However, keep in mind that sexual abuse, financial abuse, and emotional abuse may leave no obvious physical symptoms. The symptoms may be so subtle that they are easy to miss.

3) How much good communication is in place? One of the best defenses against elder abuse and neglect is good communication between the elderly loved one and their friends and family. Abusers will often look for vulnerable elderly patients and residents – especially those with no friends and family looking out for them. If you communicate regularly with someone in an assisted-living facility, nursing home, or other caregiver situation, they may be more likely to indicate something is wrong and may be more trusting in revealing abuse and neglect. Frequent visits will also better allow you to spot injuries and signs of nursing home abuse and neglect in Homestead.

4) How healthy is my elderly loved one? Someone who is ill or unable to communicate effectively is much more vulnerable, because they cannot report abuse neglect. Make sure that your family member visits the doctor regularly and gets as much medical help as possible to improve quality of life and to make communication possible.

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Power of Attorney is a legal tool that allows a person to give someone else the authority to handle health issues and financial issues. In some cases, elderly persons choose to sign over power of attorney to a trusted family member to ensure that in cases where they cannot make health or financial decisions themselves, someone else will be in a position to make those decisions. Power of attorney is often used in situations where a person develops dementia or another condition that affects decision-making ability.

According to many legal experts, however, while power of attorney ideally protects an elderly person in some cases it has been used to perpetuate nursing home and elder abuse in Miami Springs and other communities. In the wrong hands, power of attorney can be used for financial abuse, fraud, and other criminal activity.

According to MetLife Mature Market Institute, elderly residents across the US suffer financial abuse on a regular basis, losing an estimated $2.9 billion yearly. In about 24% of these cases, friends and family are the culprits. While there are no figured about abuse of power of attorney specifically, many attorneys believe that it is a persistent and wide-ranging problem. According to legal experts, there are several things that can be done to help prevent this type of abuse:

1) Maintain good communication with an elderly loved one. Good communication and frequent check-ins are important. In many cases, they can help families detect fraud or other suspicious activity around an elderly friend or family member. Frequent check-ins can also ensure that symptoms and illnesses are dealt with promptly. If a loved one develops dizziness or other troubling symptoms after a slip and fall accident in Miami Springs, for example, it is more likely that they can be encouraged to seek medical treatment if family members and friends are checking in.

2) Have a system of checks and balances involving multiple family members and friends. Rather than having one person responsible for care and being the agent in a power of attorney agreement, have multiple people helping with the care of an elderly relative. This does two things. First, it ensures that one person is not overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities (which has been linked with an increased risk of abuse). Secondly, it ensures that if abuse is taking place, others are more likely to notice it.

3) Understand power of attorney and use it wisely. General power of attorney allows for a temporary power of attorney agreement to complete a specific transaction. A durable power of attorney allows the agent to make certain decisions when a person becomes incapacitated. Estate planning involving power of attorney should be made while an elderly relative is in good condition and able to make their own decisions about agents and estate planning. It is important to consult with a qualified attorney in Miami Springs or your community to discuss these issues.

4) Use additional caution if your elderly loved one needs an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and negligence in Miami Springs and across Florida is a real concern for families and nursing home abuse takes place far too often. If your elderly relative needs to be placed in a facility or nursing home, excellent communication and frequent visits can help ensure that any abuse is detected quickly and addressed. In these cases, power of attorney can be useful in ensuring that there is someone to speak for a relative when the loved one cannot speak for themselves.

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Experts agree that caregivers who care for the elderly need to take excellent care of themselves. This is especially the case in situations where a family member decides to provide care for an elderly loved one. Good self-care is important in preventing elder abuse and neglect in Pembroke Pines. Good self-care can also ensure that a caregiver can take proper care of an elderly loved one. A caregiver who is burnt out and overwhelmed may be distracted or may even suffer from depression or other ailments, making accidents such as slip and fall accidents in Pembroke Pines more likely. A well-cared-for caregiver can take better care of an elderly charge.

There are many things that caregivers can do to take care of themselves in order to stay healthy and in order to provide the best care possible:

1) Seek help. It is important that caregivers get the support they need. There are support groups available for caregivers, which can help provide emotional support. In addition, it is important for caregivers to get some time off. Getting vacation time and days off may require hiring a part-time nurse or more than one caregiver, but various forms of respite care can help prevent burnout and stress. While many families are concerned about nursing home abuse and neglect in Pembroke Pines and other communities, it may be important to consider placing an elderly loved one in a care facility if there is no one who can care for them properly. In some cases, an elderly patient may simply require more help than one in-home caregiver can provide.

2) Know the signs of caregiver burnout and distress. Symptoms and signs vary from caregiver to caregiver, but may include depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, sleeping disorders, and health problems. Caregivers who are struggling may also overreact to small nuisances or may struggle with concentration problems or with feelings of resentment or helplessness. In some cases, caregivers in distress may develop substance abuse problems or may be unable to perform their duties as caregivers.

3) Provide good health care for both the caregiver and the patient. If an elderly loved one has an illness or a mental health issue, getting proper treatment can improve quality of life for the patient while also making life easier for the caregiver. It is also important for the caregiver to take care of their health. Proper rest, nutrition, and exercise as well as medical attention can ensure that a caregiver is in good enough condition to handle the many demands of caring for an elderly patient.

4) Have a good system of checks and balances. It is important for family members or others to check in on both the caregiver and the elderly patient regularly – whether an elderly loved one is cared for by an individual caregiver or is in an assisted living or care facility. Regular checks can help families notice signs of abuse or nursing home negligence. Noticing the signs in time can ensure that an elderly loved one can be removed from an abusive situation and that a personal injury attorney in Pembroke Pines can be contacted in order to help protect the senior.

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There are no national statistics that give an accurate picture of the extent of elder abuse and nursing home abuse. However, according to a report published by the US government in March, incidents of such abuse have been steadily increasing. According to that report, the number of cases of Florida elder abuse increased 18% between 2008 and 2010. This is a cause for concern for the many millions of American families who need to place an elderly parent in care because the elderly loved one requires extensive care. According to experts, nursing home residents are especially at risk, because many patients in these facilities have dementia, a condition which can make them vulnerable. As well, nursing home staff can be overworked and underpaid, which can also help set the stage for abuse to take place. According to experts, the first step in preventing this type of abuse is to select a facility carefully. Families can do this by:

1) Researching carefully. It is best to consider a variety of facilities in your area. Take a look at online reviews and speak with friends, family, and your local doctor to see whether you can get recommendations for some facilities. Another good option is to speak with a long-term care ombudsman in your area; this professional will often be able to give you good information about options in your area. Find out as much as you can about each facility. Look for options that include a smaller staff to patient ratio and at least 3.5 hours of nursing care per day per resident.

2) Budgeting. Long-term care for elderly patients can be quite expensive and facility costs do not always cover doctor care, medication, and other necessities. Get a break-down of costs and do the math to determine what you can afford. Call your health care insurance provider to determine what is and is not covered.

3) Taking visits seriously. Once you have narrowed down your search to nursing homes and care facilities that seem promising and are affordable, you will need to schedule some visits. Experts suggest making several visits to each place that seems promising. Going at different times of the day can paint a very different picture. It is especially important to visit in the evening, since this is when staff will be most sparse. In the evenings, is there still adequate staff for good care? Can you speak with some residents to ask them about their experience? How do staff interact with residents and patients? How pleasant is the environment? What is the food like? Look for a facility with very experienced directors of nursing, facility administrators, and medical directors. These three people are directly responsible for care.

4) Ask lots of questions. Nursing homes are subject to federal inspections — ask any nursing home you are considering for a copy of this report, which will outline any accusations or reports of Florida elder abuse at the facility. Also, one government report suggests that up to 92% of nursing homes have at least one staff member with a criminal background. Ask all facilities whether they do background checks and whether they have anyone on staff who has been convicted of a crime. Ask about staff turnover rates and rates of pay – low turnover rates and higher pay can mean that staff are happier and that abuse is less likely to happen. As well, ask to see the written policies about elder abuse – a strong policy and a willingness to discuss the topic can be reassuring.

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According to new research released by The National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse, approximately one to two million elderly Americans over the age of 65 have been abused in some fashion by a caregiver. According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, up to 30% of nursing homes and facilities are cited for incidents of elder abuse each year. Experts suggest that the problem may be even more prevalent than these statistics suggest, since many instances of elder abuse are not reported. In fact, experts believe that for every elder abuse case reported, five more occur but are not reported.

Elder abuse can range from financial abuse to emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. In extreme cases, elder abuse and neglect can lead to bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, wandering, and more. Many Florida slip and fall cases are the result of neglect or abuse, as are many physical injuries among the elderly.

In many cases, it is difficult to prove that elder abuse has taken place, especially in a facility. Elderly patients may be unable or reluctant to provide details of the abuse. Even if it is very clear that abuse has taken place, facilities usually involve many patients and many workers. It can be hard to find the responsible parties specifically in this instance. As well, bruises and other signs of abuse are often explained away as accidents or simply part of the process of getting older.

Florida elder abuse is an especial problem because Florida has a graying population. Many elderly persons come to Florida each year to get away from cold conditions in a home state and many people decide to retire in Florida to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, in cases of Florida elder abuse the consequences may be tragic. In extreme cases, abuse can lead to death. In other cases, elder abuse can result in bankruptcy, serious illness, and serious injuries. If a Florida victim of elder abuse has decided to retire in Florida, they may be isolated from family back home and therefore more vulnerable.

If you suspect that an elderly loved one is the victim of elder abuse, contact a qualified Florida personal injury attorney for assistance. In many cases, a good attorney can investigate the claims and even find evidence if abuse has taken place. As well, a good attorney can help you pursue a legal claim against a caregiver, which can help you find the resources to provide other care and treatment for a loved one.

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Financial abuse is a difficult and often-overlooked form of abuse. The most common victims of this type of abuse include the elderly. Financial abuse can take many forms. It can include intentional fraud of the elderly and scams which target the elderly. It can include a caregiver threatening or harming a person unless they give them money. It can involve a caregiver persuading an elderly person to surrender assets against their will.

Financial abuse is difficult to spot. Unlike slip and fall accidents, physical abuse, and other problems, it often leaves no physical clues and causes no obvious personal injuries. Loved ones and family members may not realize what it happening unless they keep a close watch over an elderly loved one’s finances. Unfortunately, many families want an elderly relative to remain independent and therefore refrain from asking financial questions. This can allow a perpetrator to continue to abuse his or her victim. Many victims are ashamed or fearful that their independence will be taken away, and abusers use this to keep the abuse hidden.

There are many reasons why the elderly are often targeted by financial abuse perpetrators. The elderly often do not have very close contact with relatives so that it is easy for the abuse to remain undetected. Some elderly persons suffer from undiagnosed dementia or other illnesses which make them easy targets. Even when an elderly person is not ill, a perpetrator will often blame the victim’s age or infirmities (“you’ve forgotten that you gave me your car to keep”). As well, some elderly persons do not keep up to date about online scams and other common scams, which makes them easy targets. Many elderly persons also make attractive victims because they have retirement savings and investments they have spent a lifetime accumulating.

More than 36 million Americans are currently over the age of 65. By the year 2050, that number will increase substantially to 86.7 million. Although many senior adults require assisted living programs, special care or nursing home care, though, the licensing and monitoring of these programs has not kept pace with the greying of the population. Although there are many wonderful nursing homes and assisted living programs in Florida and across the country, there are also some care homes and facilities that offer poor medical care, untrained or abusive staff, and unsafe environments.

Instances of nursing home and elder abuse are especially tragic because not all elderly persons are easily able to communicate with friends and family. This makes them especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect and allows such behaviour to continue undetected. Also, some elderly persons have medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to slip and falls accidents, broken bones, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, hip fractures, and other injuries.

Although it is estimated that one million elderly Americans are victimized in nursing homes or assisted living programs each year, experts admit that estimating the numbers is very difficult because so many cases are never detected or reported. Elderly citizens are most vulnerable to neglect, which is also the most common form of negligence and abuse. However, instances of physical, mental, financial and emotional abuse as well as medical under-treatment are also depressingly common. In the most severe cases, abuse and neglect can lead to fatalities or permanent injury.

Although not every instance of nursing home and elder abuse can be foreseen and prevented, experts agree that there are many things that concerned family members and friends can do to prevent this problem:

1) Select a facility very carefully. Many cases of nursing home and elder abuse occur due to poor facility management, poorly trained staff or other preventable problems. In many cases, there are red flag signs that a facility has problems but many family members do not notice this. When selecting a care facility for an elderly loved one, ask lots of questions, drop in during visiting hours unannounced a few times and ask for thorough tours of the facility. Check references, credentials and polices carefully to ensure that your loved one will get good care. Trust your instincts – if you are hearing the right things but something seems “off,” keep looking.

2) Maintain vigilance. Even if you select the best facility possible, nursing home and elder abuse can still occur. Some excellent facilities may acquire new staff, management or develop new policies that affect care. Some facilities – even excellent ones – may overlook issues that affect your loved one. Sadly, nursing home and elder abuse can occur in any facility – even the best. Visiting your loved one regularly and checking up on the facility regularly are a must.

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In Florida, high heat in the summer can mean safety issues. In the summer, most emergency rooms see a rise in water and heat-related injuries, and an increase in outdoor accidents. In many cases, these common Florida problems can easily be avoided. On hot days, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the common problems.

Most people can stay cool quite easily, but the elderly are at risk. The elderly may need additional help in staying cool and hydrated on hot days, but nursing home and elder abuse inevitably means that some elderly Florida residents are neglected or left in warm conditions, which can be quite dangerous.

There are several tips that help keep elderly loved ones stay safe:

Elderly abuse is caused by number of factors, but one of the most common factors has to do with caretakers who are unable or unwilling to take care of an elderly love one. Even in families where there’s a lot of love and caring, the burden of suddenly having to take care of an extra person can create resentment, frustration, and eventually, in some situations, these feelings can lead to an abusive or neglectful relationship.

Some families feel as though they have no where to turn when they need help with an elderly loved one, and this feeling of entrapment can cause relationship breakdowns that can cause a caregiver to lash out. In cases where an elderly love one needs a lot of assistance or a lot of care, and in cases where a family relationship is already marked with strife, a good local nursing home or elder care facility can help prevent elder abuse in a number of ways:

1) By providing closer care. No matter how well-intentioned a family is in caring for an elderly loved one, most families do not have the organization, the staffing, or the presence required to prevent accidents such as slip and fall accidents, broken hips, and other accidents. A good local nursing home can provide around-the-clock care and ensures fewer accident opportunities. Closer care can also help prevent accidents caused by negligence.

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