The Los Angeles nursing home and assisted living neglect lawyers at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi understand how difficult it is when a loved one begins showing signs of dementia. Even worse, however, is watching an already deteriorating loved one being abused or neglected by a nursing home or assisted living facility. Our elder abuse attorneys are dedicated to fighting nursing home neglect and are very familiar with issues such as dementia that are very prevalent in these facilities.
Although the early signs of dementia are often manifested as memory loss, the symptoms become more serious as the condition progresses. In addition to forgetfulness, patients also experience difficulty learning new skills, withdrawal from usual interests, a loss of basic social skills and etiquette, and often even a complete change in personality.
While dementia may develop independently as a result of old age, it is often directly caused by other health conditions such as Lewy body disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, Pick’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and other infections that can affect the brain. If your loved one is afflicted by any of these diseases, it is of utmost importance that you and the nursing home or assisted living facility take extra precautions to prevent of delay the onset of dementia. If you or your loved one has suffered harm due to a facility’s failure to supervise or monitor, you may want to contact a Los Angeles elder abuse attorney.
Those who suffer from dementia often experience episodes of agitation and violent behavior, an example of their loss of basic social skills. Such patients and residents are often at risk of being chemically restrained, particularly in nursing homes that are chronically understaffed and do not have the resources to provide proper care for dementia and all its symptoms. The most commonly abused chemical restraints are antipsychotic drugs, which are known for their sedative effects. However, multiple studies have proven that the use of drugs to tranquilize dementia patients who are having episodes of agitation only worsens their condition. As the symptoms of dementia are highly correlated to the use of drugs, it is logical to conclude that treatments for dementia must be behavioral, rather than pharmacological. Assisted living facilities should also transfer residents to a higher level of care if they cannot properly care for residents who suffer from cognitive issues like dementia.
Although the moderate use of medication is sometimes warranted, we often find that drugs are used for the convenience of the nursing home staff. In fact, 80% of antipsychotic drug prescriptions in nursing homes are for the off-label purpose of sedating dementia patients. Nursing home patients, who are elderly and often already taking several medications simultaneously, can suffer serious consequences from taking too many drugs. Therefore, it is important to limit drug intake to only those medications that are absolutely necessary.
The chemical interactions of so many different drugs in these patients’ already frail bodies have many adverse effects, such as polypharmacy and delirium. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to employ effective communication and accurate documentation so that physicians are aware of the medications currently being prescribed to a patient and can be mindful of polypharmacy and adverse drug reactions before prescribing additional medications.
Whether the issue is drug abuse or polypharmacy, these problems are usually direct consequences of inadequate staffing. If your loved one suffers from dementia and is not being provided with proper care as a result of understaffing, he or she may be a victim of nursing home neglect. Contact the elder abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi in Los Angeles today to see how our team of qualified lawyers can help your loved one attain the rights to which he or she is entitled.