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Friday, June 9, 2017

Preventing Nursing Home Falls and Elder Abuse in California

Q: How can elder abuse and nursing home falls be prevented?

In the good ol’ days, extended families comprised of several generations often lived together in family “compounds”, making it easier for younger generations to look after older generations because they all lived under one roof or in neighboring houses.

A historical shift towards more independent living and the younger generations’ migration to urban areas, coupled with the increase in life expectancy due to medical advances-- while widely regarded as progressive and positive--presented a host of new problems for caring for our senior citizens who had no one to care for them on a daily basis. This new reality led to the development of what we now refer to as elder law-- a series of rules and regulations enacted to provide for and protect the elderly.  

Nursing home abuse in California and throughout the nation is a growing problem. As the elderly age and become weaker or sicker and their vision declines, they may be prescribed medication that impairs their movement and balance. If they're in a nursing home setting, they need increased supervision and a personal care plan with a fall risk assessment to keep them safe.   

In fact, nearly 30% of injury deaths in senior citizens results from falls. Falls in nursing homes are preventable and often occur as a result of the following:

  • caregiver’s negligence
  • poor lighting
  • wet or slippery floors
  • poorly fit or non-locking wheelchairs
  • improper bed or toilet seat height
  • inadequate staffing and supervision

A Palo Alto Vietnam veteran recently died, allegedly as the result of elder abuse in a VA facility.  Reportedly suffering from post-surgical heart complications, leg infections, a gangrenous foot, and on dialysis the victim was left for approximately 40 minutes "unsupervised in a chair in his room where he sat with a feeding tube, rectal tube, and I.V.". He was found dead on the floor thereafter with an official cause of death of "closed head injury he sustained during an unwitnessed fall". His family has alleged elder abuse and wrongful death and the VA facility denies wrongdoing.

While not every incident of elder abuse can be prevented, seeking the advice of an elder law attorney can shed light on many issues that impact the elderly. Estate planning and other documentation can be put in place to make sure the elderly is protected from physical, emotional, and financial abuse as they age.

If you are interested in estate planning, for the elderly or at any phase of your life, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge in San Jose are Trust and Estate planning specialists who have served the South Bay area of California for over 23 years. Call us at 408-3-89-6980 to request a consultation.


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