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Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Law Blog

California chain of nursing homes sued in class action

A class action lawsuit against California's biggest nursing home provider is demanding the investigation of dozens of institutions, alleging neglect and abuse. Brius Healthcare Services and its 43-year-old owner are the defendants in the case. In 2012, the owner and his brother were recipients of the UCLA ICON Award for Visionary Leadership in Business and Philanthropy. That same year, Larry King, who praised the man's philanthropic actions and business acumen, also interviewed him.

Understaffing is at the core of the lawsuit. The plaintiff alleges that BHS failed to disclose the understaffing at 57 nursing homes when admitting residents, according to the 90-page lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks to force them to report suspected or actual cases of neglect or abuse that occurred over the last three years. The plaintiff also has requested that the judge in the matter order BHS to survey the nursing home residents quarterly to ensure the absence of mistreatment. The suit is seeking damages and class certification for fraud, consumer law violations, violation of residents' rights and unlawful business practices.

85-year-old former priest victim of sweepstakes scam

An elderly retired priest in California was talked into handing over his life savings in a scam. After receiving a fake letter claiming that he had won $1.6 million from the Publishers Clearing House, the 85-year-old man was instructed to pay $40,000 in order to avoid being taxed on his prize. After paying the sum, the priest never received his purported winnings.

The priest realized that he had been tricked by a scam when the contact number he was given became disconnected after he paid his fee. A second letter the man had received informed him that he would be given an activation code for the $1.6 million check after paying $40,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. When no one could be reached to give him the activation code, the priest called the Elder Abuse Unit of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office to report the financial abuse.

California tightens nursing home regulations

After years of oversight of the state's nursing homes, California has finally attempted to rectify the situation by enacting tighter regulations of assisted living facilities. California's previous regulations for nursing homes resulted in extreme cases of abuse and neglect as well as many otherwise preventable deaths of elderly and disabled residents.

Under the old scheme, fines handed out for abuse that led to death were very low, averaging only $150. Even when fines were handed down, the state rarely attempted to collect them. The new regulations now provide a fine of up to $15,000 against nursing homes in which abuse or negligence causes the death of a resident, a significant improvement.

Protecting the elderly from exploitation

California elders can be susceptible to various types of exploitation, making it important for loved ones to consider strategies for protecting them. Statistics indicate that approximately 1,000 elderly citizens of the United States suffer various types of financial and other abuses on a daily basis. An estimated 10 percent of elderly adults suffer some type of abuse, and estimates for financial exploitation are even greater. Further, it is estimated that as few as 4 percent of cases are actually reported. Leadership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is challenging others to help cut back on such elder abuse activities.

It is important to understand that exploitation can take many forms. For example, the illegal or improper use of financial resources of an elderly person could occur through forging a signature or cashing a check without permission. It could involve actual theft of belongings. Coercing someone into signing a document is another form of elder abuse and exploitation. Those given powers such as guardianship can exploit an elderly person by misuse of that position. In fact, an estimated 90 percent of those financially abusing seniors are trusted individuals such as family members, bankers and lawyers.

Elder abuse prevention legislation signed into law

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed 13 bills passed by the legislature that provide greater protection for those living in assisted living facilities. One bill signed on Sept. 29 received the most fanfare due to its stiffening of financial penalties for such facilities that fail to properly supervise residents. The fine for causing the death of a resident was increased from $150 to $15,000.

Fines for violating state regulations that lead to a serious injury to a resident have been increased to $10,000. Another noteworthy piece of legislation provides a bill of rights for those living in assisted living facilities. This bill of rights is comprised in a similar manner to rights nursing home residents enjoy. In addition to these fines, training requirements for nursing home staff have been increased.

Caregivers convince elderly woman to spend her entire savings

The family of an elderly woman in California is claiming that a couple victimized the great-grandmother and is now squatting in a house she owns. Five years previously, two caregivers befriended the 87-year-old woman while she was recovering from an injury to her shoulder. The couple later convinced the woman to purchase a house as an investment, and they have continued to live in the Cathedral City home rent-free.

According to the elderly woman's son, the financial abuse of his mother by the caregivers was ongoing. The man says that he was unaware his mother had purchased a home until he looked at her tax records in June. When he saw the purchase, he visited his mother and discovered that she had also bought a new van for the couple and written them a check for $20,000.

How to identify elder abuse

The holiday season is when many California families travel to spend time with a parent or grandparent. Since these special occasions only occur several times a year, family members may not realize any problems the elderly relative may be dealing with. According to a recent report, approximately 10 percent of elderly Americans suffer from abuse or neglect. The National Center on Elder Abuse has suggested ways by which people can discover if an elderly loved one is in that category.

Visiting relatives should observe the needs of their loved one and discuss those concerns with him or her. Safety needs, the type of services a caregiver renders, socialization needs and plans in regards to declining health and management of finances are some of the topics to be discussed. In situations where relatives realize that their elderly loved one needs more help, they could contact local elder agencies, doctors and attorneys for advice.

Nursing home abuse a growing problem

The elderly are among society's most vulnerable people, and they are never more vulnerable to abuse than when in a nursing home situation. Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes in California is an all too common occurrence despite the best efforts to screen and monitor personnel and staff. Family members of the elderly are the most important factor when it comes to spotting and dealing with these matters.

Elder abuse can take a variety of forms. The most common form is simple neglect. Nursing home staff simply does not always provide the expected or needed level of care to an elderly resident. Abuse can also be intentional. This happens when a staff member abuses the elder physically, emotionally, financially or sexually. While physical abuse is usually easier to spot, the other forms of abuse are often very difficult to identify. Since the residents in a nursing home often trust the staff members, they may allow the staff to take advantage of them.

Protecting an elder family member from financial exploitation

California residents with an elderly family member may be interested in some information about preventing them from being financially abused. Taking the proper precautions and recognizing vulnerabilities may help the person to avoid exploitation.

For many older people who are using new technology to manage their finances and make purchases, financial exploitation is a very real risk. There are some specific characteristics that may make someone particularly vulnerable for this type of elder abuse. These include the person living or feeling like they are alone, those with a substantial retirement nest egg, those with a very good or very bad credit rating, and those who have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other similar affliction.

Elder care and abuse concerns in California

There are several aspects of elder care that can be of concern to a loved one who may not live in close proximity to an aging family member. It is important to understand the types of elder abuse and related signs in order to monitor more closely for problems. It is also helpful to understand issues such as self-neglect, signs that more dedicated care for a loved one may be necessary.

Elder abuse can include both domestic and institutional situations. Domestic examples include mistreatment at the hands of someone with whom the victim has a particular relationship. Institutional elder abuse is that which occurs in a residential care location such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. Abuse may take a physical or emotional form, and sexual abuse is also possible. Exploitation involves depriving an elderly individual of funds, property, or other assets. Neglect and abandonment can also occur, leaving an already vulnerable individual without proper care and protection. Signs to monitor include physical issues such as bruises, abrasions, or broken bones. Emotional changes such as withdrawal from activities or depression may also be indicators of abuse. Noting significant changes in financial information may signal abuse as well.

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