Louisiana nursing homes are among the worst in the nation

The National Center on Elder Abuse finds that the most recent census recorded the "greatest number and proportion" of people 65 years of age and older. As the baby boomer generation ages, the nation's population will continue to skew older for quite some time. By 2050, people age 65 and older will comprise 20 percent of the U.S. population. The population of those older than 85 is growing faster than any other population segment. In 2010, slightly less than 6 million people were 84 or older. By 2050, 19 million people will be 85 and older. Unfortunately, some of our senior citizens are not getting the type of care they deserve due to nursing home neglect.

A report prepared for the U.S. Department of Justice shows that an extremely vulnerable population resides in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Some nursing home residents are elderly and of advanced age while others suffer from chronic disease or cognitive disabilities. Typical acts of neglect which result in injuries to patients included insufficient attention to bed sores, scalding patients during bathing, malnutrition, medication errors and patient falls. Patients were also reported injured after wandering off from the facility. Reports of physical abuse of those in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes involved hitting, slapping and shoving patients. Psychological abuse consisted of high levels of verbal abuse such as cursing and threats.

Recently, the Advocate reported that the value of care of nursing homes in Louisiana rated near the bottom of the United States. Louisiana has high incident rates of patient bed sores and the use of physical restraints. Additionally, nursing home facilities are vastly understaffed with trained nurses. The details were contained in a report prepared by legislative auditor Daryl Purpera's office, which oversees Louisiana's nursing home budget. A spokesperson for the AARP stated that the report merely confirmed what was already known which is that Louisiana spends billions of dollars yearly on "low-quality nursing home care". A spokesperson for Supported Living Network said the situation was "unconscionable" and called for a legislative investigation. The Louisiana auditor's report found that the data it relied upon put Louisiana far from the benchmark for several quality of care indicators.

Consequences of abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the consequences of abuse and neglect are substantial. Whether suffering severe or modest abuse, elders who are abused had a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to those who had not been abused. Further, studies have shown that victims of elder abuse have significantly higher levels of psychological distress and lower self-esteem than older adults who are not victimized. Finally, older adults who are the victims of abuse and neglect have more health problems than other seniors. Those additional health problems which cause injury to patients include:

  • Increased bone or joint problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems

There are also fiscal costs in that the direct medical cost associated with abuse and neglect add over $5 billion to the nation's annual health care costs.

Getting advice

No one wants to think that a loved one residing at a nursing home is being abused or neglected. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect are more common than many people think. If you suspect that a loved one at a Louisiana nursing home is being subjected to neglect or abuse, you need to contact an attorney experienced in handling nursing home cases. An attorney can investigate the matter and advise you of your options under Louisiana law.