Why You Should Check For Nursing Home Abuse

Why You Should Check For Nursing Home Abuse

You may hear stories of nursing home abuse every day in the news. You may have followed some of the recent celebrity stories or even seen local stories of nursing home abuse on the Atlanta news.  It’s hard to believe these things can happen here, so close to home.  In fact, if your elderly parent or loved one is in a nursing home, you may think they are safe from harm because she or he has not complained and you have seen no obvious signs of trauma. However, you should not wait for your loved one to draw your attention to problems that may already exist. There is always the possibility that your parent is suffering at the hands of his or her caregiver. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to take a closer look yourself when you visit.

There are many reasons that you want to do a closer look into your loved one’s living arrangement and caregiving.  First of all, many of our seniors cannot communicate efficiently when there is a problem.  Many feel that this is the only place to go and therefore, speaking out is not an option.  Some are intimidated or threatened by the nursing home staff.  Some do not want to be a burden to others and finally, many just simply do not recall due to dementia, Alzheimers, or overmedication by abusive nursing home staff.

Check for Nursing Home Abuse

Visit Regularly

The first way to keep an eye on things is to visit regularly.  You will only be able to tell if things are going on if you know there are changes from one visit to the next.  If your parent’s attitude changes and you haven’t been to see him or her in months, it will be much more difficult to determine when it occurred and the reason behind the change.

Reasons for Visiting

You know your parents better than anyone.  If there is abuse or neglect (neglect is a form of abuse) taking place, there could be reasons they are not vocalizing it.  Remember that they have to continue to live there after you leave.  Some times speaking can seem to make things worse and unfortunately, one of the most common control tactics of abusive nursing home personnel is the use of intimidation.  This can be physical or emotional which leaves the resident feeling as if their dilemma will only worsen if they speak out.

You may notice notice subtle changes in your loved one such as immediately changing the subject when you ask about their wellbeing – especially if he or she used to complain but no longer wants to discuss their living situation.

To make sure the communication channel is always open, you should stress that health, happiness and their welfare are your top priorities.  Explain to your

parents or loved ones that they can come to you with their concerns about the location, their care givers, medical issues and more.  Your parents need to know that you love them and you are there to support them so that they do not feel as though they are only a burden now to you – just an inconvenience in your life.  Only when they understand that will they open up and tell you if things are not quite right.

Finally, as our parents get older, they may begin to forget details.  However, another problem with abusive nursing home staff is the use of medications to sedate patients.  This makes it even harder to recall incidents or neglect.

Withholding, altering or giving incorrect medication can have fatal consequences.  If you notice a sudden confusion, lethargy or overall change of behavior, physical appearance in your mother or fathers, you should act.

Act Immediately

Every patient has rights.  Here in Georgia, we utilize the following statutes:  O.C.G.A. §31-8-103 through §31-8-121, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities”.  These rights protect patients.  If you feel that your mother, father or other loved one is not being cared for properly in a nursing home or other care facility, do not wait to act.  Waiting can be fatal.  Contact our office so that David Crawford can work directly with you on the details.  David has the experience, the passion and the legal knowledge to work with you and guide you towards a solution for you and your family.

Georgia’s Traffic Citation

Georgia’s Traffic Citation

Imagine this scenario: Katie is driving to work early one morning.  She’s tired from having too little sleep.  She’s running late, knowing that one more time she will be fired.  Losing her job will mean she loses her apartment.  She’s nearly to the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare when she hears a siren and looks up to see the lights in her mirror.  She pulls over, hoping this will be a quick stop.  As she looks in the passenger seat for her purse, she realizes that she never paid her auto insurance.  She was planning to pay it with this next paycheck to get it reinstated.  Panicking, she looks ahead and sees a straight shot of road.  The thoughts race through her head.  Should she try and explain this to the police? Fight it in court? She will never get out of jail because she cannot pay if she’s arrested and loses her job.  Should she take her chances to run, knowing that she has nothing to lose? She knows that she will be going to jail when she is pulled over. Should she try to run? The officer is out of his car; she could get a very good head start.  What does she have to lose by running?

If you have watched the Atlanta news recently, you will see that people often try to outrun the police.  You will also see that it usually has deadly consequences.  It’s easy to see how someone can feel trapped with no way out.  While our state is not the heaviest in the fines, Georgia is unique in a couple of ways regarding our traffic citations.

Georgia’s Traffic Citation System

Georgia is one of only a few states that considers its traffic citations criminal offenses rather than minor offenses.  So, if you are caught speeding, that is a criminal offense.  In other states, it’s a minor offense.  Because it’s a criminal offense, you are given a court date.  Depending on the offense, you may have an opportunity to pay the fine rather than go to court.  However, if you go to court but are unable to pay your fine that day you risk probation.  Some offenses, i.e., driving without proof of insurance, require you appear in court.

In addition, Georgia courts add several surcharges on top of the actual fine.  Anyone who has been caught speeding in Georgia knows that the price tag of a ticket in court is very expensive and depending on how many miles over the speed limit, it may result in points on the driving record.  This can affect your wallet in more ways than one.  Insurance companies can increase your rate or drop your coverage if you have a risky driving record.

How Do We Help Katie?

Remember Katie from our scenario above? There’s hope for her situation, especially if she does not run.  You have rights under the law and Katie has rights too.  Katie would be best served by communicating with the officer to find out why he’s pulled her over.  She has a right to know.  Katie isn’t even sure what the reason is yet.  It could be speeding.  It could be lapsed insurance or it could be something all together different.  When the officer asks for her license, insurance and registration, Katie should provide her driver’s license and car registration and be honest about not having the insurance card.  In the event that she is ticketed, or worse, arrested, Katie has the right to contact an attorney and she SHOULD contact an attorney either way.

Why You Need a Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket

In the event that Katie was speeding excessively, she is likely facing a very large fine and possibly an additional super speeder fine from the State of Georgia.  This can also add points to her driving record which will increase the cost of her auto insurance.  Now, because Katie has already allowed her insurance to be cancelled, she may have a problem getting her insurance re-instated at all.  On top of that, when she goes to court, she will be unable to pay the fine (having lost her job) so she will be given probation.  Driving without insurance may actually result in incarceration as well as suspension of her driver’s license.  Having an experienced attorney who knows the law and traffic court can assist her greatly on all of these issues.  An attorney with trial expertise will know how and when to negotiate for Katie.

If you, or a loved one, finds yourself in a situation involving traffic tickets, a DUI, driving without insurance or other criminal matters, contact our office.  David Crawford has the knowledge, experience and compassion to help see that your rights are protected and preserve your driving record.  There is no reason to run.  Attorney David Crawford’s got your back.

 

Without a Single Drop to Drink, You Can Still Get a DUI

Without a Single Drop to Drink, You Can Still Get a DUI

Imagine the following: You are driving home late one evening.  Maybe you worked late.  Maybe you are a college student and you met a study group to prepare for upcoming finals.  When you are about half the way home, you see blue lights in your rear view mirror.  You pull over, providing your license, registration and insurance as requested.  The officer asks if you have been drinking.  You tell him respectfully and truthfully that you have not.  He asks you to step out of the vehicle.  You ask him why.  He tells you he suspects you of drinking and driving and provides no other information.  He uses a breathalyzer on you and then asks if you have been smoking marijuana.  You answer that you have not.  He asks about other illegal drugs.  You state that you have not taken any illegal substances.  He asks you to place your hands behind your back.  You ask why he is arresting you and he states, “You’re showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana.”  Stunned, frightened but also angry, you catch yourself before you say something that may make the situation worse.  You were not drinking.  You had not smoked marijuana and had never ingested any other illegal drugs.

If the above scenario seems like something that cannot happen, think again.  It has – and it does, right here in Georgia.   The part that is most upsetting about these arrests is that these individuals were INNOCENT and it took them months for their charges to be dismissed.  They each lost something during the time they waited for this to work through the system.

If you should find yourself in a situation such as this, you have the right to an attorney.  As an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney, David Crawford will weigh the evidence against you and build a strong case.  If you have been wrongly charged, he will fight for you and explore every avenue to help avoid a conviction.  We hope you are never in a situation where you have to make a phone call to a DUI attorney, but if you are, make sure you call the best – David Crawford. 

 

 

 

Be Aware of Silent Elder Abuse: Dehydration and Malnutrition

Be Aware of Silent Elder Abuse: Dehydration and Malnutrition

Elder abuse and neglect are serious issues facing many elderly people in the Atlanta area as they live out their remaining years. While our senior citizens enter nursing homes, assisted living facilities or even stay in their own homes looking for the support and medical care they need, some of our loved ones are taken advantage of because of their vulnerable situation. Some forms of elder abuse are more obvious, like injuries or bed sores while some can be overlooked, leading to deadly consequences.   Silent forms of elder abuse: malnutrition and dehydration can result in severe problems, including death, if not detected and treated.

Elder abuse involving malnutrition and dehydration pose dangerous risks for the elderly. Without proper hydration and nutrition, seniors are more likely to experience a nutrient imbalance and are more susceptible to infections and may be set up for such problems as bedsores. It is a sad reality that many nursing home patients are not able to get their own drinks and food and must rely solely on the institution staff.  If the institution is understaffed or neglectful, the basic needs are not met.

Symptoms of Elder Abuse Involving Malnutrition and Dehydration

If you fear that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, look for symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition. If your loved one is exhibiting these symptoms please consult their primary physician or get them to the hospital if necessary.

Malnutrition

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Increased memory loss or mental decline
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Confusion

Dehydration

  • Dry skin
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Dark colored urine

As soon as you see the signs, report nursing home abuse to the authorities and secure a nursing home neglect attorney. If you or someone you love is suffering or has been suffering from these types of situations, contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.  If the initial facts warrants further legal investigation, David and his team will gather information about the patient’s history so that he has a complete understanding of how, and when, this occurred.  He will work with you and others to develop a detailed time line to understand what happened to your loved one, any warning signs that were ignored by the nursing home staff and what could have been done to avoid the problem. In essence, David will show you the negligent acts and omissions that may have occurred and help you understand the case prior to filing any lawsuit.

Elder Abuse: Are You Safe At Home?

Elder Abuse: Are You Safe At Home?

Are you safe at home? It’s a simple question that family members, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists need to ask their older patients every time they visit.  Why? Because that simple question could open the door toward identifying elder abuse.

Senior Abuse Does Happen At Home

When we think of elder abuse, we think of nursing homes.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.  In fact, many of our older family members choose to stay home longer and have care in their own surroundings where they are comfortable.  This presents a dilemma because the home is not subject to the scrutiny of a facility such as a hospital or nursing home.  The same standard of oversight simply does not exist which makes it easier for a person to be taken advantage of, especially if others are not asking questions or visually checking for abuse.

Elder abuse is a serious, common and sometimes fatal problem that is absolutely preventable.  There is no reason our seniors should have to suffer at the hands of anyone, let alone caregivers who are paid to come into our homes and see to their every need because they can no longer do these things for themselves.  So, how should you start protecting your loved ones who have caregivers at home?

A Few Facts on Elder Abuse

First, some facts so that you know what you are up against.  This will help you prepare when you hire someone to care for your loved ones.  Let’s look at the bad news first and then we will discuss how to prepare and prevent.

Bad News

  1.  Most elder abuse is never discovered. An Institute of Medicine report noted one in 10 older Americans, “experience physical, psychological or sexual abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.” But for every elder mistreatment case that is brought to the attention of authorities, more than a dozen go unreported.
  2. Home care abuse can be easier to disguise because there are less checks and balances.  There is no management oversight in many cases and unless the patient speaks up – most of them do not, this can go on for a very long time.
  3. Agencies that provide home care workers do not always provide background checks.
  4. This is a public health issue.  Too many people still view it as a private matter such as the way domestic violence was once treated.  This may be because we are not sure what to do or how to handle this.  Often elder abuse comes from family members so loved ones are reluctant to speak out.
  5. Patients with dementia or other memory problems may try to speak out and not be taken seriously.  Their claims may be seen as “confused” and when the health care workers are confronted, it becomes easy to write it off as “she often says crazy things”.

Now for some good news that will help you prepare and prevent.

Good News

  1.  If you have more than one caregiver coming into your home, make sure each person is checking your loved one EACH and EVERY time and reporting back to you.  It’s a simple checks and balances and do not feel guilty about this.  Remember, you or your loved one is paying for this service.  Whether you are writing a check or paying by insurance, he or she deserves excellent care and you deserve to know the status.  You can simply ask questions like: “Was Mom/Dad/etc ok today? Anything I need to be aware of?”
  2. When you visit your loved one, check yourself for bruises that are out of the norm.  Older people will bruise more easily but look for the beginnings of bedsores on those who are stationary  and do not be afraid to gently ask “are you being treated ok?”
  3. If you feel there is something going on, ask their physician for a screening on the next visit.  Share your concerns privately with the doctor.  If frequent trips to the ER have begun to pop up, ask the personnel to flag this and take a look.  This is where it can stop and action can be taken immediately.

An Ounce of Prevention

Always hire home health care givers from a reputable company.  If insurance is paying, they will have some recommendations and may even make the choice for you from a specific company.  Do not be afraid to ask the company if they do background checks.  Ask them if the person who is taking care of your family member has ever had any problems or complaints, especially ones such as abuse. If you know someone who has used a company before, ask them for a recommendation.  Most of all, if you begin to use someone and things do not feel “right” or you notice something is off with your loved one, dig into it to find out more.

Here is a real life story on how this can play out:  Annie needed a caregiver for her mother during the day while she works.   Annie contacts a company.  She inquires about the backgrounds of anyone they send and is told that the company “screens” all of their nurses and assures her there have been no issues or complaints.  After 2 weeks, Annie notices her mother is beginning to get fearful each morning when Annie begins to leave for work.  She stays home and observes the caregiver but notices nothing out of the ordinary other than her mother reacting oddly.  She dismisses the caregiver early that day and spends the day with her mother.  There are no noticeable marks or bruises on her body and her mother will not say anything is wrong.  Annie installs a camera into her home.  As it turns out, the caregiver is locking the mother into a room with no access to food or water while she watches TV most of the day.

How could Annie have learned about this without a camera? In time, her mother’s lack of food and water, as well as irregular medicines would have landed her in the hospital.  But a camera was the way to go for this situation.  In the end, Annie not only sought a case against the home health care company and found out that the worker had quite the history but the worker was also arrested on criminal charges.

Always remember, situations change day to day. An older person who was safe at the last visit may not be at future appointments. Vigilance is extremely important to keep your loved one safe.

Discuss Next Steps During A Consultation

If you or someone you love is suffering or has been suffering from these types of situations, contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.  If the initial facts warrants further legal investigation, David and his team will gather information about the patient’s history so that he has a complete understanding of how, and when, this occurred.  He will work with you and others to develop a detailed time line to understand what happened to your loved one, any warning signs that were ignored by the home health care staff and what could have been done to avoid the problem. In essence, David will show you the negligent acts and omissions that may have occurred and help you understand the case prior to filing any lawsuit.

Bedsores and Other Signs of Elder Abuse

Bedsores and Other Signs of Elder Abuse

If you have entrusted an elderly loved one’s care to professionals at a nursing home, you likely did so based on the assumption that a facility would be able to provide better care than you could. Imagine the horror if you were to find out that your loved one had been subjected to abuse and neglect at the hands of those who were committed to their safekeeping. According to ABC News, this is tragically true for as many as one in three nursing home residents. If you suspect such crimes may have been committed, you should pay attention to bedsores and other signs of elder abuse.

Bedsores can indicate elder abuse

Many people misunderstand bed sores or think that they are not that serious. Unfortunately, they are very serious and completely avoidable. Bedsores result from long-term neglect when a person has been confined to their bed or chair for prolonged periods of time without moving. Once bedsores develop, they can cause severe pain and even death if they are left untreated.

1. Inexplicable injuries

If you notice that your loved one has suffered injuries, such as broken bones, fractures, bruises or cuts, there are only so many reasonable explanations that can be offered. When such injuries seem to recur and become consistent, you should certainly be suspect of whatever is going on. Needless to say, these can be signs that your loved one is being deliberately abused at worst or carelessly neglected at best.

2. Rage or mood swings

Sudden changes in the mood and disposition of your loved one can be caused by any number of phenomena, but abuse is one of the most common triggers. Aging tends to spur psychological changes, but if you sense hostility or depression you should not ignore these signs. Mistreatment can cause these and other behavioral problems to appear.

3. Signs they may be dehydrated

Like bedsores, dehydration is a problem that people often underestimate. This is especially true for elderly people. Signs of dehydration include tiredness, dry mouth and skin, headache, and dizziness. These symptoms can indicate that your loved one is not receiving the nutrition and hydration they need.

These are just some of the signs you might notice if elder abuse is taking place in a nursing home. If you have noticed these or any other concerns, contacting a lawyer may help you understand your family’s legal options.

Discuss Next Steps During A Consultation

If you or someone you love is suffering or has been suffering from these types of situations, contact us.  Attorney David Crawford has the experience and knows exactly where to start.  If the initial facts warrants further legal investigation, David and his team will gather information about the patient’s history so that he has a complete understanding of how, and when, this occurred.  He will work with you and others to develop a detailed time line to understand what happened to your loved one, any warning signs that were ignored by the nursing home staff and what could have been done to avoid the problem. In essence, David will show you the negligent acts and omissions that may have occurred and help you understand the case prior to filing any lawsuit.