Elderly people in Illinois nursing homes and care facilities nationwide are vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Seniors, who often lack the ability to communicate clearly, might receive suspicious injuries or exhibit symptoms that are blamed on age or illness. What a parent or grandparent might not be able to say is that caregivers are assaulting, restraining, depriving or overmedicating them.
Nursing home neglect is a common problem when facilities are understaffed. Five people recently sued a for-profit nursing home and its parent company, Mariner Health Care, for neglecting residents' care. The elderly at the 80-bed facility allegedly were abandoned for lengthy periods, overmedicated and left with soiled clothing and bed sores. Four residents were victims of sexual assaults in 2010.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said elderly residents were sexually abused over a five month period. The nursing home staff is accused of failing to respond to cries for help from assault victims, which sometimes lasted longer than half an hour. Police arrested and convicted the abuser on sexual battery charges.
The bigger part of the lawsuit seeks punitive, rather than statutory damages. Lawyers said plaintiffs want the facility and its corporate parent to make permanent changes to prevent any future occurrences of elderly resident neglect or abuse, according to state and federal laws. Plaintiffs also insist that the nursing home consent to third-party monitoring.
Federal health inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services scored the nursing home three out of a possible five in 2010. The facility was considered average.
Family members who notice signs that an elderly nursing home resident is upset or injured should seek explanations for the changes. Understand the medication your loved one is prescribed and how often the drugs are to be administered. Encourage the resident to talk about the care they receive and listen carefully to the answers.
Source: Mercury News, "Suit alleges neglect of residents at San Pablo nursing home," Robert Rogers, June 29, 2012