The Coachella Valley is a popular retirement spot. As such, it is no surprise that the area has a growing elder population. Coupled with the fact that the U.S. elder population is quickly growing (in 2010, 13% of the population was over the age of 65), there is a significant need for long-term care in the area. Sadly, with an increase in nursing home care comes an increase in nursing home abuse. This phenomenon has become a serious problem across the country in recent years.
How Many People Live in Nursing Homes?
The CDC reports that more than 1.4 million adults older than 65 live in nursing homes in the U.S. That number is expected to grow to about 3 million by 2030, considering the rising senior population. There are currently about 110,000 California residents living in roughly 1,300 licensed nursing homes across the state. An additional 150,000 older California adults live in residential care facilities.
While many of these facilities are safe, welcoming places for elderly people in need of care, others are not. Any elderly person who relies on someone else for their care is at risk for elder abuse. However, this risk is higher for those with cognitive impairments, such as dementia. Patients who are isolated from friends and family are also at higher risk.
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Here are some common examples of nursing home injuries that often result from negligence:
Slip and fall. According to the CDC, nearly 75% of nursing home residents fall every year. Falls account for about 1,800 nursing home resident deaths each year. While it is true that the elderly are more prone to falls, falls in nursing homes are often the result of negligence—whether from slippery floors, poor lighting, or furniture that is too high off the ground.
Bedsores. Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, can be extremely painful, and they are a result of remaining in one position for too long. They usually occur on heels, ankles, hips and tailbones. Oftentimes, nursing home patients have difficulty moving on their own. Nursing staff should be helping to turn them over and/or shift positions frequently to alleviate pressure and avoid the development of bedsores. Thus, bedsores can be an indication of neglect.
Intentional Elder Abuse
While these injuries are often a result of negligence, they are not necessarily intentional. However, there are many instances where nursing home staff intentionally harm elderly patients. Examples of this include:
Sexual harassment and abuse
Intentionally striking patients or otherwise physically abusing them
Verbally abusing patients
Intentionally ignoring a patient’s call button or other request for assistance
This type of abuse might sound extreme, but it is unfortunately not all that uncommon in nursing homes. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced elder care abuse in the form of neglect, exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse or emotional abuse. That equates to roughly 5 million elderly people each year. However, that only accounts for reported cases of abuse. One study shows that as few as one in every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to the proper authorities.
The problem is even more prevalent in California. According to the California Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office, complaints regarding the exploitation, abuse or neglect of elderly people are more than twice the national average.
What to Do if Your Loved One Has Suffered Nursing Home Abuse
The first thing to do is recognize the signs of abuse so you can investigate your loved one’s situation. If you any of the following, there might be cause for concern:
Unexplained bruises or cuts
Sudden weight loss
Emotional changes, such as depression, anger or withdrawal
If you believe your loved one’s rights have been violated, take action. Report the negligence to local law enforcement and/or to the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. You should also report the abuse to the facility administrators. If the nursing home is unwilling to address the problem, it might be in your loved one’s best interest that you find an alternate living situation for them.
Whether your loved one has suffered from neglect and inattention or outright and deliberate abuse, you can pursue a claim against the facility for negligence. You should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to find out what your options are.
“The scope of elder abuse in California and the country is devastating. If your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, report the incident to the proper authorities and consult an attorney,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.
Our firm has been handling a variety of personal injury cases throughout the California High Desert communities for over 30 years. Here you will find a personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.