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If you are thinking about placing an elderly relative in a nursing home make sure that you know what to look for when evaluating facilities.

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Elder Law

Some families choose to put their elderly residents in retirement homes when they demonstrate that they can no longer take care of themselves. This may be because they have recently developed Alzheimers, have become wheelchair bound or suffering from the early stages of dementia, but many people that are of an advanced stage choose to live in senior living residents because they do not want to be a burden on their family. Most retirement homes scrutinize their applicants, require them to be bonded with the FBI and subject them to thorough background checks before they will offer them an open position. Even with these standards there have been various recorded cases of neglect, abuse and financial exploitation.

Within retirement homes there are health care workers such as nurses and certified nursing assistants work closely with elderly patients with illnesses. These patients are transported to and from doctors appointments, bathed, fed and generally cared for. The patients themselves or their families are responsible for paying their fees in advance of services. Because some elderly patients are not visited by their families or seen by outside health care professionals for extended periods of time they can suffer from extremely dangerous health issues. The number one health issue experienced by the elderly living in nursing homes are bedsores. These painful lesions develop as a result of laying in the same position without being turned or rotated. By themselves they are usually harmless, but when combined with respiratory or blood related illnesses, bedsores can be life threatening.

When an elderly patient passes away their family usually assumes that it was because of natural causes. Likewise, the family will need to decide if they want to have an autopsy performed or not. If foul play is suspected then a medical examiner will examine the body. This can happen immediately after death, but sometimes bodies are exhumed when a retirement home has been accused of allowing abuse or neglect to occur.

Some patients that are suffering from medical conditions can be extremely vulnerable. Important financial documents can be used by unscrupulous nursing home employees, and even retirement homes have been prosecuted for financial exploitation. An elder law attorney can be hired to investigate these types of suspicions either at the request of the patient or his or her family. Most of the time, exploitative employees will create a long paper trail that is easy to pick up on. Because they were thoroughly vetted before being employed most do not think that they will be suspected. If an elder law attorney can gain enough evidence criminal charges may result. In addition, nursing homes can be sued civilly if it is found that they were aware of unsavory conditions and refused to take action.

07.05.2009. 15:11


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