elderly lady in a bed with dementiaWhile we would all like to think that nursing homes provide nothing but loving, professional elder care, the reality is that this is not the case. By some accounts, residents at as many as one third of all nursing homes nationwide face some sort of abusive treatment. This article focuses on even greater risks faced by one particular population: nursing home residents with dementia.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia refers to a set of symptoms exhibited by individuals suffering from certain diseases and disorders that affect brain function. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia – accounting for 60 – 70% of all dementia cases – other causes include:

  • Huntington’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies

The symptoms commonly associated with dementia include: impaired cognitive ability, memory loss, difficulty communicating, lack of motor control, and disorientation. Dementia patients may also suffer from personality changes, agitation, and paranoia.

The Risks for Dementia Patients Living in Nursing Homes

As a result of this mental decline, nursing home residents with dementia are at a much greater risk than the general population. Not only are dementia patients less able to care for themselves; but also, sadly, they are more susceptible to abuse and neglect by their caretakers. One study has found that as many as 47% of all dementia patients face abuse or neglect by their caretakers. The following are some common examples:

  • Physical Abuse – Nursing home residents suffering from dementia are more likely to face physical abuse (being pushed, hit, or kicked), be unnecessarily restrained, and be fed against their will.
  • Sexual Abuse – Due to their impaired mental state, elderly dementia patients are more susceptible to sexual abuse in the nursing home setting.
  • Neglect and Abandonment – Nursing home staffers are more likely to neglect patients with dementia, due in part to the patients’ inability to effectively speak for themselves. This may lead to bedsores, falls, and malnutrition. In extreme cases of neglect and abuse, dementia patients have been abandoned altogether.
  • Financial Exploitation – Financial abuse and exploitation are also more common among patients suffering from dementia. From petty theft to exerting undue influence to cause the patient to change his or her will, it is not uncommon for dementia patients to be victimized financially as well as physically.

If You Need Help, Call Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC

Living with dementia, as both a patient and a loving family member, is difficult enough on its own. You do not deserve to have yourself or a loved one mistreated as a result of a debilitating disease. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC can help. Contact us online by filling out our online contact form or call 800-991-0474 today.

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