Phoenix Elderly Self-Neglect Lawyers
When we bring our elderly family members to a nursing home, we do so because we assume that nursing home will do a better job taking care of them than we will. Nursing homes should be set up with the residents’ well-being in mind. Sadly, neglect is incredibly common in these facilities, especially self-neglect. Even worse, this kind of abuse can lead to your loved one becoming ill, injured, or even passing away.
If your loved one has become a victim of self-neglect, then you both are in need of a helping hand. We at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., want to be the ones to offer that help. We have worked with many families who put their trust in the wrong nursing home, and we have fought for their right to compensation. We want to fight for you, too. For a free consultation, call our firm at (602) 267-1280 today.
Elder self-neglect is one of the biggest problems the elderly face, and it’s the most common form of elder abuse. Self-neglect can be seen in many forms, including elders that refuse to take their medications, or they just stop bathing and grooming. There are many reasons elders stop taking care of themselves and their own needs, including dementia, depression, disease, or poverty, to name just a few. Most often, elderly people stop taking care of themselves because they no longer have the mental capacity to do so. The question we hear a lot at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., is, "Who’s responsible for self-neglect at a nursing home?"
Well, for self-neglect to be allowed to continue, especially to continue to the point of illness or injury, the staff of the nursing home must be neglectful themselves. Ultimately, it is the staff’s responsibility to take care of all their residents. Even if they believe a resident is capable of taking care of himself, if that resident shows signs of self-neglect, then staff need to step in. If the nursing home staff try to pin the blame on your loved one, keep in mind that at the end of the day, taking care of the residents is the staff’s responsibility.
Most people do not realize how dangerous self-neglect truly is. When an elderly person appears to be capable of taking care of herself, we simply assume she will. However, there are seniors all across Arizona who stop practicing good hygiene, taking their medications, or even eating.
Why does self-neglect happen? Well, it might begin because the senior has developed a mental illness that has yet to be diagnosed, such as dementia. It may also begin with a depressive state, leading the elder to lack the energy to take care of himself. It may also happen because the senior is in pain due to an illness or injury, and is unable or unwilling to tell anyone about the discomfort.
Whatever the reason, self-harm is only allowed to continue to due to staff neglect. In a properly run nursing home, staff would keep an eye on all residents, and would immediately notice when a resident shows signs of self-neglect. That staff member would report the issue, and work with their team to get the resident back into good health and figure out why he or she started suffering to begin with.
Sadly, not all assisted living facilities run as they should, which is why self-neglect is allowed to continue. Given how fragile the elderly can be, this could easily result in a wrongful death. If you are worried that a loved one is self-neglecting, there are signs you should look for.
If you are worried that your elderly loved one had begun to self-neglect, then you need to watch for the telltale signs. Those often include:
- Lack of hygiene
- Unclean clothing
- Skin rashes
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of medical devices (such as hearing aids, dentures, glasses)
- Unpaid bills
- Depressive mood
- Lowered energy
If you notice any or all of these symptoms, then there is a good chance that your loved one has begun to self-neglect. At this point, the most important thing is to make sure your loved one is clean and healthy. Take him to see a medical professional and help him get cleaned up. After you have done both, you should then look into whether you need to report the incident or not.
Since self-neglect is not an immediate sign that a nursing home has been negligent, unlike physical abuse, there is a process you should follow when deciding to report or not.
The first thing you can do is find out whether or not the nursing home has reported the self-neglect. Because elderly people start neglecting themselves typically because they don’t have the mental capacity to take care of themselves, it’s up to the nursing home staff to make sure that they are still being taken care of. It’s similar to getting a child to take their medicine. The parent knows that the medicine will help the child get better, but the child doesn’t want to take it because it tastes bad. It’s the responsibility of the parent to step in and make sure the medication is still being taken, no matter what.
The second thing to do is to find out how much control the nursing staff have had over the situation. If it’s a scenario in which the nursing home staff have no control over the resident’s care (for instance, a belligerent patient that hits them while the staff is trying to care for them), the case can still be reported so that the elderly person can continue to receive care. The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) is an organization that has multiple resources that can help elderly people that are neglecting themselves.
Finally, if the nursing home staff does not contact these resources, or take extra measures to try and get the patient the care that they need, they may be, and should be, held responsible for the neglect. While the patient may not have the mental capacity needed to care for themselves, the nursing home staff does and they need to make sure they are doing everything they can to ensure the person is cared for. Otherwise, they’re allowing for improper care and neglect to befall the elderly person, which is no better than neglecting the patient. The best way to protect your loved one is by contacting an experienced attorney.
Nursing home staff needs to be aware of self-neglect, the warning signs and just how large of a problem it really is. Once they identify self-neglect, they need to do everything they can to make sure that the people trusted in their care are still getting the care and attention they need, even if they act as though they don’t want it. If you have a loved one in a nursing home and you suspect self-neglect, contact a Phoenix elder abuse attorney at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. today by calling (602) 267-1280. We know what self-neglect looks like, and we know how to work this very tricky aspect of the law. Don’t wait another day. Make sure that your loved one is getting the proper attention, and if they haven’t, make sure you get them the compensation they deserve.
- Elder Self-Neglect: Who Is Liable?
- Recognizing Abuse and Self-Neglect, Elder Abuse, Caregiving - AARP
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer