As the demand for residential care services for senior citizens has increased over the last several decades, so have the reports of injury, abuse, and neglect in nursing homes, group homes, and residential facilities. Nursing home abuse and neglect has become an epidemic. The decision to put an elderly loved one into a nursing home can be a terrifying one; we all want the same thing for our family members—to be treated as they would be by their loved ones. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case.
While a nursing home has a responsibility to their patients to ensure their safety and keep them free from harm, all too often this just does not happen. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), reports indicate that 50% of all nursing home residents have reported some form of neglect or abuse. Just think about all of the cases that go unreported out of fear or simply because the resident is unable to communicate what is happening to him or her.
Gene Cullan and Sam Cullan are doctors as well as nursing home abuse lawyers; these Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated trial attorneys understand the complex federal and state regulations that govern what goes on in nursing homes across Arizona and the United States. They understand the complex medical issues that accompany geriatrics, and they understand the duties nursing homes owe their residents.
Skin Conditions Associated with Neglect of the Elderly
Bedsores, also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure ulcers, are discolorations of the skin that, if left untreated, can develop into very serious wounds. Bedsores are often an indication of improper care and are the most common skin condition seen in nursing home patients. Other infections that occur in the elderly include Gram-positive bacterial infections of the skin, intertriginous infections, herpes zoster/shingles, and onychomycosis, which is found more often in male patients than in female patients. The strength and integrity of the skin decline with age because the elderly are prone to both malnutrition and obesity, both of which facilitate the entry of pathogens into the skin. Also, the elderly have a much weaker immune system.
Dry, itchy skin is very common in the elderly. This may not sound like a serious condition, but it is when you are unable to care for yourself. The nursing home has a duty to take steps to avoid it:
- Take 2 or 3 showers/baths a week with warm, not hot, water
- Use soap made for dry skin
- Apply lotion immediately after drying skin to lock in moisture
- Drink liquids
- Use a humidifier during winter months and in dry climates
- Avoid saunas
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Sadly, we have seen firsthand the horrific conditions of some nursing homes. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in a two-year period (2006-2008), over 5,000 nursing facilities were cited for almost 9,000 instances of nursing home abuse. We have spoken to families who have had their loved ones starved, raped, physically abused, spit on, taunted, photographed in sexually explicit ways and otherwise abused and tortured. Financial exploitation is also a very common occurrence among the elderly.
If your elderly loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home in Phoenix or a surrounding area, please contact Cullan & Cullan today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.