Pintas & Mullins was proud to support the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Montrose Harbor. A large majority of nursing home residents are affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, making them vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and unlike many other diseases such as cancer, death rates are on the rise. Our team of elder neglect lawyers is here to help nursing home residents and families with any questions or concerns about neglect, mistreatment or abuse.
Physical and Chemical Restraints
Nursing home residents with dementia are more likely to be subject to physical and chemical restraints. Physical restraints are illegal in Illinois and include efforts such as using side rails to keep a resident from getting out of bed, using Velcro or bedding to restrain movement, or preventing a resident from getting up by using tables, bars or belts. Chemical restraints refer to using a pharmaceutical drug to control a residents’ behavior or mood for convenience or discipline, not as a medical necessity.
State and federal law prohibit restraints in nursing homes. Regardless, chemical restraints are a massive problem among nursing homes, particularly among residents with dementia who exhibit combative symptoms. We have written extensively on this topic here and here.
Falls and Wandering
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Aside from restraints, residents with Alzheimer’s are at an increased risk of falls, wandering, and elopement. Injuries among these residents vary by age, sex, race, and geographic area. The risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease is more than 25% higher among white residents than among black residents, for example. Alzheimer’s disease mortality is highest among women and non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic men and women have the lowest death rates from Alzheimer’s disease.
Surprisingly, Alzheimer’s disease affects patients differently across the states. Washington, Tennessee, and North Dakota have the highest rates of Alzheimer’s mortality, while New York, Hawaii, and Nevada have the lowest.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Upon admittance, nursing homes must tailor a care plan for each resident, identifying specific risks, needs, and abilities. For Alzheimer’s patients, care plans should directly address how to prevent falls and wandering. Successful actions may include exercise programs, environmental modifications, and medication adjustments.
Of course, every person affected by Alzheimer’s has unique symptoms. Among the most dangerous for nursing home residents include disorientation, reduced ability to communicate and inability to perform daily tasks. Key risk factors for falls include many symptoms of Alzheimer’s including muscle weakness, visual or balance problems, impaired functioning, and depression.
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It is estimated that nearly 90% of nursing home residents with dementia experience some degree of mobility impairment. Frequent falling can cause bone fractures, brain injuries and other very serious injuries, and even premature death. This is why it is so important to have a tailored care plan that addresses the risks of falls and wandering when a dementia patient enters a nursing home.
Regardless of their cognitive condition, any nursing home resident in any type of facility can be injured by neglect and abuse. If you or someone you love was seriously injured by mistreatment by staff or another resident, contact our team of nursing home negligence lawyers immediately. We offer free legal consultations to concerned families and residents nationwide. Each state has its own laws and regulations governing nursing home claims. For your convenience, we have compiled a brief overview of each state’s particular statutes, here.