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Recent abuse case shows vulnerability of Alzheimer’s patient

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most debilitating conditions affecting the elderly and their loved ones. A recent study reported that two-thirds of those residing in nursing homes are struggling with some form of dementia. Unfortunately, these patients are among the most vulnerable to elder abuse.

In November of last year, Florida woman Ruth Jones died of abuse-related injuries, shares WFLA. Her daughter’s account of the events reveals the worrisome state of dementia-patient care.

Why have dementia patients become targets?

Those who suffer from dementia have trouble with both memory retention and communication. These impairments make it difficult for them to inform others of cruel treatment. Many patients may be in pain but cannot remember or explain why. Relatives and nursing-home officials may not uncover abuse until it is too late.

Additionally, poor caregivers might neglect a patient altogether if he or she is difficult to treat. Symptoms of dementia include aggression and agitation, and this can make nursing-home staff reluctant to provide appropriate treatment.

What are the consequences of poor nursing-home care?

In the case of Ruth Jones, the nursing home stopped administering her prescription of Percocet. She was taking it to relieve pain from a previous fracture in her vertebrae. Without the drug, she suffered tremendously. It is likely that symptoms of her Alzheimer’s disease made it easier for nursing-home staff to explain away her cries of confused pain.

Her daughter, having left her side for two months due to illness, returned to discover her mother’s misery and declining health. An ambulance took Jones to the hospital where the staff found a key source of her agony: a bedsore.

Following hospital treatment, Jones returned to the nursing home. She passed away a few months later. Though there are many startling facts about this story, there are three clear takeaways:

  •       The nursing home did not notify Jones’s daughter of the change in her medication.
  •       Staff neglected Jones enough that she developed a life-threatening bedsore.
  •       Jones did not receive Percocet prior to her death because the nursing home ran out of it.

Are nursing homes culpable for their actions?

Many nursing homes avoid serious consequences, despite the number of complaints from patients and relatives. If you suspect staff has delivered abusive or neglectful care to your loved one, you can seek legal retribution. You may be able to protect other patients from a similar fate.

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