June marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. In the United States, nearly six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Globally, more than 50 million people are currently afflicted with Alzheimer’s, a relentless disease that impairs memory and other central mental functions.
Many families have no choice but to put their loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility when diseases such as Alzheimer’s make it hard for untrained family members to care for the individual. They put their trust in a facility expecting it will provide the care their loved one needs and deserves.
Florida is not only inviting to seniors because of the beautiful weather and low taxes, but the abundance of living communities reserved for seniors. The top three most expensive cities in Florida for elder memory care are Tequesta, Loxahatchee, and Jupiter – all local cities. Overall, Palm Beach County ranks as one of the most expensive counties in Florida for Alzheimer’s care.
But, what if the dollars spent on care aren’t used in the best interest of some of our most vulnerable seniors? Common in Florida are reports and cases of abuse of many kinds: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. The signs of physical abuse may be easier to spot: injuries, bruising, weight loss, dehydration, or unclean clothing or living areas.
Here are some other indicators of abuse:
• Depression, withdrawal, or unwillingness to talk
• Anxiety or fearfulness of caregivers
• Unusual or unexplained behavior
• Difficulty sleeping or eating
• Suspicious changes in friend groups or legal and financial arrangements
If you’re unsure about whether someone you know is suffering from nursing home abuse, it may help to use the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI). EASI is a list of six questions (five for the elder involved and one for the elder’s doctor), that can aid in spotting possible abuse:
1. Have you relied on people for any of the following: bathing, dressing, shopping, banking, or meals?
2. Has anyone prevented you from getting food, clothes, medication, glasses, hearing aids, or medical care, or from being with people you wanted to be with?
3. Have you been upset because someone talked to you in a way that made you feel shamed or threatened?
4. Has anyone tried to force you to sign papers or to use your money against your will?
5. Has anyone made you afraid, touched you in ways that you did not want, or hurt you physically?
6. [For Doctor]: Did you notice any of the following in the last 12 months: poor eye contact, withdrawn nature, malnourishment, hygiene issues, cuts, bruises, inappropriate clothing, or medication compliance issues?
A “yes” response to any of these questions should raise concerns about elder abuse and lead to a follow-up inquiry.
Your loved one deserves the best care available—when that care is violated, you can turn to the attorneys at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith, PLLC, a strong ally when it comes to defending the rights of our clients in a nursing home abuse or neglect case. Our knowledge of Florida nursing home laws and our experience in serious personal injury cases means we can successfully fight to protect.