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Los Angeles Nursing Home Abuse Law Blog

Putting a stop to nursing home neglect in California

About 13.5 percent of the United States population is over the age of 65, and that number is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2050. It is believed that up to 10 percent of those over the age of 65 are subjected to abuse. This number is expected to increase as the elderly population increases. However, lawmakers are trying to take action to put a stop to elderly abuse.

One possible solution that lawmakers are proposing is to increase penalties for facilities that engage in elderly abuse. Another idea is to allow residents to put hidden cameras in their bedrooms to record instances of abuse while they happen. In the meantime, family members are encouraged to look out for signs of possible abuse in loved ones. For instance, bed sores or increased bruising may be potential outcomes of abuse.

Financial abuse affects many California elderly

Financial abuse remains an ongoing problem for the aging population. Depending on the person's age and other circumstances, the financial abuse could involve consumer fraud, dating scams or theft by a family member or caregiver. Studies indicate that such exploitation results in the loss of billions of dollars each year. In addition, findings from a New York elder abuse study indicate that only one out of 44 cases is reported, suggesting the financial damages could be much higher.

The low record for reporting incidents of financial abuse may stem from a variety of reasons. In some cases, the elderly person may not report the abuse for emotional reasons, such as feeling embarrassed or ashamed that the abuse occurred. Other people may suffer from a cognitive impairment or are no longer involved in their own financial management, entrusting that responsibility to a family member to handle, leaving them essentially unaware of the financial damage until it is too late.

North American Healthcare files for bankruptcy

North American Health Care, a California company that is the owner of 35 nursing homes, recently filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S.Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. The company has been under fire with the filing of more than 15 elder abuse and neglect lawsuits just since 2013.

Many attorneys are criticizing the bankruptcy filing, claiming the company is seeking bankruptcy protection specifically as a way to try to avoid liability. The company, in turn, is blaming plaintiffs' attorneys, which it deems to be overly aggressive. Lawsuits against nursing homes are increasing, as many people are claiming abuse and neglect, sometimes due to companies reducing staffing levels in order to turn profits. Of the lawsuits filed against North American, at least one does claim the neglect and abuse suffered by the plaintiff was a result of decreased staffing levels.

California nursing homes and elder abuse

Elders in nursing homes are not immune from the threat of domestic violence. "Domestic violence" against elders is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging as violence perpetrated by a person having power over the elderly person through coercion, threat or actual force against an elderly person. The violence may be physical, emotional, sexual or financial in nature.

Caregivers, adult children and spouses of elderly persons may all be perpetrators of domestic violence. According to the AoA, women are more at risk of being victims of elder abuse, but elderly men may be affected as well. Abusers frequently adopt tactics such as limiting with whom an intended victim may interact, isolating the victim and using threats or continued displays of power to intimidate or frighten the victim into compliance. This type of violence has been reported in every socioeconomic stratum and ethnicity.

California couple sues university for elder abuse and fraud

A 98-year-old philanthropist and his wife have stated in their lawsuit against Chapman University that the university president went too far in asking for donations. Their lawsuit accused the president of relentlessly seeking up to $12 million to build a new science and technology center.

The couple, from Corona Del Mar, had been generous with universities for years. Scholarships had been funded by them at Caltech and the University of California, Irvine. But when they began donating to Chapman University, the president began to flatter them excessively and request money frequently, according to the lawsuit.

Financial abuse harms the California elderly

As the number of older people grows, the incidents of elder abuse has increased as well, particularly financial abuse. The results of a 2015 survey indicates that approximately one-third of older people have fallen victim to a financial scam over the past five years. Promises of lottery payouts, sweepstakes winnings and persuasive acquaintances have robbed elderly people of thousands of dollars. In some cases, well-meaning family caught on to the scams and intervened to protect their loved one, but others suffered serious financial loss due to the convincing nature of the scams.

Financial abuse is not limited to consumer scams and fraud cases. In fact, many situations of elder abuse, family members oftentimes tend to be the abusers. This includes matters of financial abuse, the illegal or intentional misuse of money or property belonging to someone else. Unfortunately, some cases of financial abuse go unreported, leaving the older person vulnerable to the aftermath of the illegal management of the money.

Video cameras may become available for private nursing home rooms

Elderly individuals in residential facilities are often in no position to self-advocate or even testify as to the quality of care they are receiving. This fact is causing some families and at least one nursing home facility in California to push for the option to install video cameras in resident's rooms as a means to protect them from neglect or abuse. However, the Department of Social Services, which has authority over such policies, has not yet implemented the desired change in policy.

The co-owner of a facility catering to memory impaired patients has said that elderly patients in assisted living facilities should have the option of having security cameras in their room if they so desire. Under current guidelines, cameras can be installed in common areas, such as hallways and dining areas, but not in private rooms. The facility in question has purchased cameras for their private rooms, but the cameras cannot yet be put into use.

Nursing homes and surveillance cameras

A recent article discussed the advisability of the use of cameras inside the rooms of California nursing home residents. While some are pushing for their use, the state has reservations about allowing these surveillance devices.

Battling against nursing home abuse can be difficult for a relative who is not able to regularly check up on their loved one at the care facility. One nursing home owner says that allowing surveillance cameras in residents' rooms can go a long way toward giving relatives of residents a better way to ensure that their family member is being cared for. They also help make the nursing home accountable for its actions and provide evidence when it does not provide the required care. However, one California government agency is preventing the use of these cameras in this manner.

Identify signs of elderly financial abuse

California locals who are concerned about an elderly family member may find some suggestions about how to identify the signs of elder financial victimization useful. The targeting of elderly individuals in America has become a progressively growing crime. In many cases, scam artists will seek to target elderly victims due to their supposed decreased cognitive abilities. A recent study indicated that the elderly are scammed out of $2.9 billion each year and that the average loss can include a person's entire life savings.

While Americans are living longer than in days past, almost half of the 80- to 89-year-old age group has either been diagnosed with cognitive impairment or has dementia. This could drastically affect their financial decision-making abilities, making them easy prey for scam artists.

Why Nursing Homes Are Evicting Elders After Hospital Visits ... And What You Can Do About It

Losing your home is never easy. For elders living in nursing homes, getting evicted is an especially traumatic experience. It often leads to a downward spiral of deteriorating health and mental decline.

Yet this tragic form of eviction is becoming more prevalent across California. Called "hospital dumping," it occurs when elders seek treatment at a hospital or ER, only to find that their nursing home bed has been given to somebody else - in violation of state and federal law. Nursing homes use this tactic to get rid of undesirable patients without the hassle of a formal eviction.

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