Nursing Abuse and Alzheimer’s Patients

July 4, 2015

While the abuse or neglect of loved ones residing in nursing homes is a devastating topic, alarmingly enough, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) it’s estimated that only about one in five cases of elder abuse is reported. It can be even harder to detect neglect or abuse when the victim can’t even remember what happened. Unfortunately, due to cognitive diseases, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it can be even harder than usual for victims to recall or even identify incidents of abuse.

Alzheimer’s Disease

While most people have a general idea of what Alzheimer’s disease is, the actual disease goes beyond memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that irreversibly and progressively destroys a person’s memory and thinking skills. Not only does Alzheimer’s disease present challenges to a person’s daily life, but researchers also estimate Alzheimer’s disease to be the third leading cause of death, coming behind heart disease and cancer.

While Alzheimer’s disease can begin with signs of fuzzy thinking or cognitive difficulties, it often progresses to the point where an individual would have trouble carrying out daily tasks, such as clothing themselves or coping with new situations. In severe cases, persons with Alzheimer’s disease might even have trouble communicating. Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can include:

  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • irritability; or,
  • distrust of others.

Regardless of the severity, a person with Alzheimer’s disease would be dependent on those around him to ensure that he is cared for, which can lead to a variety of problems later on.

Abuse or Neglect

In South Carolina, the abuse or neglect of a “vulnerable adult” is covered under South Carolina Code, section 43-35-10. Under this statute, the term abuse covers both physical and psychological acts of harm. Examples of physical or psychological harm include:

  • hitting;
  • sexual abuse;
  • unreasonable confinement;
  • threats; or
  • harassment

Neglect, on the other hand, goes to the failure or omission of necessary goods, services, or care that results in harm to a person. Necessary goods, services, or care generally include food, medical services, shelter, and clothing.

Specific Issues

Needless to say, the vulnerabilities of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can create a heightened risk for abuse or neglect. Not only will a resident of a nursing home have trouble remembering specific incidents of abuse or neglect, they might also be subject to further abuse or neglect as a result of their dependence on the caretakers around them, and may even be unintentionally abused by their caretakers. For example, because residents with Alzheimer’s disease may have an increased likelihood to wander from the nursing home, the nursing home might use either physical restraints, such as locked doors at night, or chemical restraints, such as sedatives or anti-psychotics.

Contact an Attorney

While dealing with elder abuse can be devastating at times, there are ways for a person to help the victims of elder abuse. One of the primary ways is to report any incidents of abuse or neglect. In addition to this, working with an experienced attorney can provide not only peace of mind, but also the assurance that you have the assistance of a professional. Contact the David Aylor Law Offices today in order to speak with a dedicated, experienced attorney.

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