As our readers in the Bernalillo area know, our law office represents victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. The types of cases we handle include situations that are either outright criminal or that involve physical or other forms of abuse. We also handle cases in which, for whatever reason, a facility just does not give a patient the care he needs.
When a person in New Mexico is in a nursing home, they are dependent on the people who care for them to do so promptly and thoroughly. When nursing home professionals neglect this duty and overlook even what seems like a small need or a minor chore, they can cause serious harm to their patients and the families who have entrusted their loved one's care to a nursing home.
Most of the nursing homes in New Mexico accept patients who are on either Medicaid or Medicare, which are both federal health insurance programs. In fact, many of these patients must use one or both programs to survive financially.
Not surprisingly given the increasing life expectancy, and should the trend continue, the number of people over age 85 living in the United States will increase by more than 100 percent by 2050. Right now, people in this age group make up a little under 2 percent of the country's population, but they are expected to constitute 4.5 percent of the population in 2050. With society become less and less integrated around the broader family unit, this means more elderly people in New Mexico and nationwide are going to have to turn to professionals for medical and personal care when they get too old to attend to these needs themselves.
A previous post on this blog talked about the various causes of falls at nursing homes in New Mexico and across the nation. As that post discussed, many of these falls are preventable so long as the patient is getting proper care. In other words, whenever a fall happens at a nursing home, it is appropriate for the family to ask questions and, depending on the answers, hold the nursing home and its staff accountable for the injury.
Falls among the elderly in New Mexico, including those staying in nursing homes and other retirement facilities, are very serious affairs. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people die from complications due to falls every year. Moreover, up to 1 in 5 of those who fall suffer what are described as serious injuries, with a handful of these injuries being broken bones.
A family in the Albuquerque area no doubt will only put their loved one into a nursing home after careful consideration, and then only with the expectation that they will be properly cared for and, as much as possible, have their medical and other needs met.
When a person is asked to think of the most important things in their life, most people think of their family. When family members start to get older and have a difficult time caring for themselves due to ailing health, a medical facility or long-term care facility - sometimes known as a nursing home - is often a viable option. Some struggle with the idea of placing loved ones in a care facility. This is completely understandable, especially when horror stories related to nursing home neglect come to light.
Giving up one's freedom to live on their own home is not the same as giving up one's rights to be treated with dignity and respect. Often, though, when New Mexico residents are moved into nursing and care facilities they are subjected to mistreatment and neglect that may amount to abuse. Nursing home residents do not deserve the maltreatment that they too often receive and have rights that they may enforce when neglect and abuse cause them harm.
Elder abuse is a problem that plagues many of our nation's older residents. It can occur between members of a family and it can also occur between care givers and their older charges. In New Mexico and communities all throughout the United States senior citizens face serious threats to their physical, mental and financial health when they put their trust in nursing homes and other facilities that purport to provide them with adequate care.