New Mexico Alzheimer's and Memory Care Abuse Attorneys
Older people with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate effectively about mistreatment they experience in a nursing home. This makes them even more vulnerable to abuse, and many Alzheimer’s abuse cases go unreported. If your loved one with Alzheimer’s resides in a nursing home, it is important to visit regularly so you can monitor any changes that may indicate abuse or neglect.
We at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP know just how devastating abuse towards individuals with Alzheimer’s can be for both the nursing home resident and their family. A nursing home facility has a responsibility to care for our most vulnerable loved ones, and when they fail that responsibility, they should be held liable for the damages they caused. If you suspect your loved one is being abused by their nursing home, don’t delay in calling us at (903) 212-2822 for a free consultation.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder, frequently found in older people, that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. It is a common form of dementia that involves a continuous decline in thinking, behavior, and social skills, and disrupts a person’s ability to function independently. Early signs of Alzheimer’s may include forgetting recent conversations or events. As the disease progresses, the person may develop severe cognitive impairment and become unable to carry out everyday tasks.
An older adult with Alzheimer’s may:
- Ask questions or make statements repeatedly, over and over again
- Misplace possessions routinely, often placing them in illogical locations
- Forget conversations, appointments, or events
- Get lost in familiar places
- Have difficulty finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts, or participate in conversations
- Forget the names of family members and everyday objects, as the disease progresses
Victims of nursing home abuse who have Alzheimer’s may be unable to communicate well enough to tell anyone about the abuse. Alzheimer’s patients require more extensive care and attention than other residents. They are more easily confused and make easier targets for aggressors. Because of their condition, they may be unable to remember the specific events of the abuse. These factors combined make residents with Alzheimer’s more likely to suffer nursing home abuse.
Nursing home residents with cognitive and memory problems can be abused in several different ways.
Physical abuse may involve striking, punching, slapping, pinching, kicking, pushing, throwing objects, or using force to keep an elderly resident in bed. Signs of nursing home physical abuse may include:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, or welts
- Fear of a particular caretaker
- Broken bones, dislocations, or sprains
- Unexplained falls
- Broken eyeglasses
- Traumatic tooth or hair loss
- Abrasions resembling injuries from straps or ropes
- Burns or blisters from cigarettes, appliances, or boiling water
Outrageous and deplorable as it is, sexual abuse of memory care patients occurs more frequently than you might imagine. Older adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia are particularly vulnerable to sexual predators. Signs of nursing home sexual abuse may include:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Bruising around the genitals or inner thighs
- Torn, bloody, or stained underwear
- Pain, irritation, or bleeding of the genitals or anus
- Pelvic injuries
- Social withdrawal
- Suicide attempts
- Unusual or inappropriate sexual behavior
- Depression, embarrassment, or fear
Elder neglect occurs when a paid caregiver fails to provide adequately for a resident’s needs. Neglect can be both physical and psychological. Signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration
- Mental confusion or apathy
- Withdrawal, agitation, depression, or distress
- Untreated bedsores (decubitus ulcers)
- Lack of proper clothing
- Untreated or worsening medical conditions
- Bad dreams or difficulty sleeping
- Self-destructive behavior
- Poor personal hygiene
- Missing essentials, such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, wheelchairs, or walkers
- Insufficient heating, cooling, lighting, or ventilation
- Outdated or empty prescriptions
Financial abuse of elderly people with Alzheimer’s is a growing problem across the nation. Unscrupulous nursing home staff may take advantage of these vulnerable residents by stealing their money or their other valuable possessions. Residents with Alzheimer’s are likely targets for financial abuse because they may become confused about how much money they should have, or forget the theft occurred. Signs of Alzheimer’s financial abuse include:
- Resident lending money to nursing home staff
- Excessive or unnecessary charges for nursing home services
- Unexplained use of resident’s credit or debit cards
- Changes in resident’s will, deeds, or power of attorney
Residents with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions are at a high risk for wandering off the nursing home property. The resident may forget why they’re at the facility, or where they are, and simply leave. When that happens, it poses a huge health risk. Alzheimer residents that wander away from their nursing home may become confused, disoriented, end up lost, and not be able to recall how to get back to safety. This may lead to injuries, such as broken bones, bruising, or lacerations, and can even end in death from exposure. If the nursing home is next to a busy street, the resident may be hit by a car as they wander the road. During winter months residents may go outside without proper clothing, leading to frostbite and hypothermia. This is why it is so important that nursing homes take proper precautions with residents with Alzheimer’s and have staff keep an eye on them at all times.
The memory loss and confusion associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia make older people with these conditions more susceptible to abuse. Nearly half of people with dementia experience caregiver abuse or neglect, according to a University of California fact sheet. If you suspect your loved one with Alzheimer’s is being abused or neglected, it is up to you to step in and protect them. This may involve reporting the incident to nursing facility administrators, the New Mexico Health Facility Complaints hotline at (800) 752-8649, the Adult Protective Services, and the police. The next step is to seek legal guidance from an experienced New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyer.
If your loved one has been a victim of Alzheimer’s nursing home abuse, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyer. Call the Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP at (903) 212-2822 for the dedicated legal advocacy you need. We can investigate the abuse, help you protect your loved one in the future, and assist you with a claim for compensation to hold responsible parties accountable.
- Care Options - Alzheimer's Association
- Dementia: Improving Care for Family Members - Administration for Community Living
Don't wait to get help. Contact our Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse lawyer to schedule a free consultation.
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