What is Florida Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing home abuse in Florida is rampant. This is because the state is home to a large senior citizen population. With the amount of seniors populating Florida and the lack of acceptable staffing in nursing homes, many elderly are finding themselves in a dangerous situation. Nursing home abuse prevention is possible. Proper staffing and regulations are necessary to ensure the safety of one of Florida’s most vulnerable populations.
How do nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse occur?
Nursing home abuse occurs when a nurse, doctor, caregiver, or anyone with the job of caring for the elderly intentionally causes harm. This can be in the form of neglect, physical assault, or verbal abuse. All of these situations cause pain and suffering to the nursing home resident. In the nursing home setting, the elderly are vulnerable to this abuse due to their inability to care for themselves. As a result, senior citizens who rely on caregivers are put in situations in which they’re susceptible to harm. Many become so fearful of their caregivers they never report the abuse. When this occurs, wrongful death may follow.
What is nursing home neglect?
Neglect comes in many forms. In South Florida nursing homes, it often happens during hurricane season. This is catastrophic, as nursing homes fail to prepare facilities for extreme weather situations. While many seniors retire to Florida due to our beautiful weather, the state is prone to hurricanes. These can pose a life-threatening risk to the state’s vulnerable populations. Nursing homes neglecting to upgrade generators or stock enough water is a leading cause of undue pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, not every nursing facility is created equally. It’s important for family members to ensure their elderly family member is safe. If the family finds instances of inconsistent care, it’s important to look for another nursing home. In places prone to natural disasters such as Florida, it’s important for family members to ask questions.
The following questions provide insight into whether a nursing home is right for a senior:
- Do you have adequate generators?
- What are your emergency evacuation plans for the residents?
- Is an abundance of drinking water available in the event of a natural disaster?
- Do those caring for my family member have proper licensing to do so?
- What are the policies on elder abuse and neglect reporting?
How should Florida nursing homes care the needs of the elderly year-round?
When it comes to caring for nursing home residents, it’s important that the facility remains consistent year round. Emergency plans are important, but facilities should not overlook day to day care of seniors.
- Dietary considerations. The elderly have specific dietary needs that must be met. These needs should be met at the same time each day. Consistency can improve health and provides routine for those who show early signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. These dietary needs are meant to improve brain function, bone health, liver, heart, and kidney function. As we age, our dietary needs change with us. Nursing homes must do due diligence to provide residents with meals that meet any specific needs they have.
- Physical activity and mental stimulation. Whether a senior citizen is in a wheelchair or can still actively participate in activities, stimulation is important. Physical and mental stimulation can extend life by years! Providing for an elderly resident’s physical activity can mean working with a physical and occupational therapist, swimming with the assistance of a nurse or CNA or engaging in games that stimulate the brain. This is why many facilities provide weekly bingo and card games.
Compassion is key
Some senior citizens suffer depression, aggression, or anxiety. Alzheimer’s or Dementia make it more common for the elderly to suffer these symptoms. It’s important for family members and nursing home staff to engage the senior as much as possible.
Providing the elderly opportunities to socialize, play games, and get out of their room can improve mental health. Those with Alzheimer’s live longer, healthier lives when participating in social activities providing mental stimulation.
Isolating the elderly from family and friends is another silent form of nursing home abuse.
What is medical neglect in Florida nursing homes?
Senior citizens have an entirely different set of medical needs. Nursing home abuse can occur in the form of neglecting these needs. When the elderly ask to see a doctor, ignoring such a request can result in serious medical harm. Medically, there is more to consider in the nursing home setting than there is in the comfort of our own homes. In facilities with shared amenities, Sudden Onset Pneumonia can be deadly. When the elderly come down with pneumonia, medical attention should be immediate.
Refusing to provide, or denying medical care to the elderly is yet another form of nursing home abuse.
Here are some simple, common ways to help prevent Sudden Onset Pneumonia:
- Keep resident rooms clean and free of dust, mold, mildew, and other common allergens that trigger bacterial infections. Nursing home abuse happens when those caring for seniors do not keep rooms clean. Infections occur when nursing staff refuse to provide proper bathing care for seniors, as well. In properly run facilities, the elderly receive assistance with bathing and caring for themselves. Compassionate nurses provide a safe, comfortable environment for seniors to feel clean and cared for.
- Maintain a comfortable temperature for residents. If the facility is cold, nursing staff can show they care by providing blankets and sweaters for the resident. If a resident complains of being cold, they are susceptible to becoming ill. A senior citizen cannot be left in frigid temperatures. In reverse, a resident should never become so overheated that dehydration sets in. Maintaining proper temperature control is key.
- Nursing staff should never ignore symptoms even if they may seem like “nothing serious”. It’s important those caring for the elderly pay attention to coughs, sneezes, and respiratory sounds. This is one of many reasons nursing staff must have proper license to care for geriatric patients. Knowing what to listen for (breath and heart sounds) is specialized.
Year round care for Florida’s senior citizens
When it comes to preventing nursing home abuse, this information is useful year round. In the event of emergencies, preventing unnecessary pain and suffering to vulnerable populations can save lives and prevent future liability.
An elderly person finding themselves needing the care of a nursing home may be fearful. Some seniors rarely receive visitors. As a result, nurses who provide love and care are highly valuable. Elderly who don’t receive frequent visitors are sometimes the ones who find themselves victims of nursing home abuse. This happens as a result of negligent, abusive staff members thinking they will never be caught in the act. This is not true! Every staff member in a nursing home must act appropriately and uphold their duty of care. Florida’s elderly population look to caregivers for patience and compassion. Nurses who listen to a story a resident wants to tell, hold their hand, or read them a book before bed are the gold standard of care.
Families who receive anything less than compassion and understanding for an elderly loved one should thoroughly research the signs of nursing home abuse. If nursing home abuse is found to have occurred, an immediate consultation with a Personal Injury lawyer who specializes in cases of elder abuse must be contacted at once.