Senior Malnutrition

In today’s American society, it is hard to imagine how seniors can become malnourished. Nursing homes provide seniors with three meals per day, and there’s always Meals on Wheels. Surely family members help out seniors with preparing meals – right? All too often, seniors have barriers that prevent them from getting the nourishment that they need, and there is no one there to help them.

One such barrier is dementia or other cognitive disorders, which can make the activities of daily living (ADLs), including preparing meals, extremely difficult. Some seniors can no longer drive, which makes it difficult to get groceries from the store. Dental problems can make nutritional foods hard to ingest. Plus, some seniors may have difficulty stretching their budget to always have enough food.

Another reason for senior malnutrition is social isolation. Seniors who have no regular visitors or family nearby may go days without human contact. This can lead to severe depression and exacerbate medical conditions, both of which can lead to malnutrition.

The number of malnourished seniors in America was at an astonishing 3.7 million in 2012, according to a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians. A nutritionist for the federal Administration on Aging, believes the numbers are higher, or as many as half of American senior citizens. Likewise, according to the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition, one out of every three seniors admitted to the hospital are malnourished. Due to malnourishment, these seniors are more likely to have longer hospital stays, to be readmitted, and to have higher rates of mortality. The resulting health care costs are more than $157 million annually.

There are many different types of abuse or neglect that can occur to residents in nursing home or residential care facilities, including malnutrition. The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have handled countless claims on behalf of nursing home residents who have suffered serious injuries and even death due to the negligent behavior of nursing home staff and facilities, regardless of the type of abuse or neglect involved. When a serious injury or death of a loved one occurs, we know just how devastating it can be, and how powerless you are likely to feel as a result. Allow your family to begin the healing process from this traumatic event by holding the wrongdoers responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact our office today and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys.

Employee Injury Rates Increase in State-Run Skilled Nursing Homes

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, state-run nursing facilities were the most injury and illness-prone state workplace in 2016. In fact, the average rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in 2016 was 8.8 per 100 nursing facility workers. This is three times as much as the overall rate for private employers across all types of industries, and an increase over 2015 statistics.

State-run nursing and residential care facilities had a 13.7 average rate of workplace injuries and illnesses, while state hospitals and correctional institutions had the second and third-highest employee injury rates in 2016. On the other hand, private skilled nursing facilities and facilities run by local governments had much lower rates of employee injury and illness; their rates were 6.5 and 6.1, respectively.

There were 259,800 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in state-run facilities in 2016. For 111,700 workers, these injuries and illnesses resulted in time off from work, restrictions upon returning to work, or job transfers. While private industry non-fatal injuries and illnesses continue to decrease, those of state-run nursing facilities continue to rise.

As the nursing home industry continues to grow with America’s steadily aging population, the safety of staff members is becoming of greater concern. Without a safe environment for high-quality staff members, care for residents also will suffer. All too often, nursing home staff members do not properly care for their residents, which can lead directly to their injuries resulting from abuse or neglect. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of caregivers at nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

Health Care for American Seniors Lags Behind Other Countries

According to a recent Commonwealth Fund study, health care for American seniors still lags behind the senior health care that is available in other industrialized countries. Participants in this study included seniors from the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Although all Americans who are 65 and older are covered by Medicare, American seniors still tend to be sicker and go without essential care more frequently than seniors in other countries. In fact, almost one-quarter of American seniors did not go to a doctor when they were sick, fill a prescription, or get a recommended test, simply because they can’t afford it. In the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, and Norway, only five percent of seniors failed to get essential healthcare due to costs.

The study results indicated that there are several reasons why this might be the case. First, Medicare does not cover as much as insurance options in other countries. For example, Medicare without any sort of supplement does not pay for prescription drugs. In other countries, however, government-sponsored insurance is available for not just seniors, but for everyone. As compared to other countries, the amount that the United States invests in social services programs is much lower than in other countries. On the other hand, America tends to overinvest in health care, despite the limited nature of Medicare benefits.

The fact is that American seniors spend more on out-of-pocket medical expenses than seniors in other countries, due to the fact that Medicare coverage is not as generous as government health care in other countries. In America, 22% of seniors paid more than $2,000 in out-of-pocket medical costs, as compared with less than 10% of seniors in the other countries surveyed, with the exception of Switzerland, where 31% of seniors had more than $2,000 in medical bills to pay.

The failure of America to sufficiently invest in social services programs also resulted in worse financial conditions for seniors, as compared to those in other countries. While 25% of American seniors said that they worried about having enough money to pay for essential needs, such as food, rent, electricity, heat, and medical care, only 10% of seniors in New Zealand, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom had similar concerns.

Even when seniors receive adequate health care, they still may encounter other problems while in long term care facilities. The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who suffer injuries at the hands of their caregivers, no matter whether those injuries from result from abuse or neglect in a nursing home or in any type of long-term care facility. We can seek compensation for you through the legal system, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you might have experienced, and moving on with your life. Don’t hesitate to contact our office today and learn how we can help.

Seniors with Mental Health Issues Don’t Always Seek Out Long-Term Care

Mental Health America has developed an online mental health screening tool that almost 10,000 individuals over the age of 65 have utilized since 2014. When asked about end-of-life care, none of the individuals stated that they were looking for skilled nursing care. Rather, they were more concerned with their effect on others toward the end of their lives. Essentially, the surveyed individuals uniformly rejected expensive end-of-life care in favor of having a safe place to live, the ability to interact with family members and friends, and hopes for the future of their children. The bottom line is that when it comes to end-of-life care for those individuals with mental illness, options for long-term care or skilled nursing care are not their priorities. Therefore, allowing seniors, especially those with mental illnesses, to actively participate in their end-of-life care planning can be crucial to their happiness in their final days.

The results of these screenings indicate that existing affordable living options and places to congregate with friends and participate in activities, such as senior centers, may not sufficiently meet the needs of seniors with serious mental illnesses. While these individuals often have physical conditions in addition to mental illness, they tend to seek out remedies for their emotional wellbeing, rather than any remedies for their physical ailments. In order to meet these needs, it is possible that mental health professionals may need to refocus their efforts on providing the level of support that these individuals truly need, rather than focusing on purely medical or nursing care solutions.

The community based residential facility (CBRF) lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities live up to reasonable standards in caring for their residents, including meeting their mental health needs. When a nursing home or other type of facility fails to do so, and injury to a resident occurs, the facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking, and Advance Directives

A recent Kaiser Health News article tells the story of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease whom her husband claims was being spoon-fed against her written wishes. According to the article, the woman had drafted advance directives when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, in which she requested that no measures be taken to prolong her life, including artificial nutrition and hydration. The woman’s husband interpreted the advance directive to include the spoon-feeding, and even went to court to enforce the document’s provisions. A local judge, however, rejected his request, finding that state rules and regulations required nursing homes to offer residents three meals each day, and to provide assistance with eating, if necessary.

This case has highlighted a controversial subject; many terminally ill patients are attempting to engage in voluntary stopping eating and drinking, or VSED , by executing advance directives. VSED normally is used to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient through dehydration, and usually will result in death within a two-week timeframe. One of the difficulties with VSED is the patient’s competence to make the decision when the time comes. For example, the woman mentioned above continued to open her mouth to be fed food and intake water, long after she could legally consent to VSED. Advocates of VSED claim that it can allow a terminally ill patient to control the circumstances of his or her death. Critics, however, see VSED as cruel torture that leads to the starvation of elderly, disabled, and mentally ill individuals.

In the state of Wisconsin, you can execute a living will, as well as a health care power of attorney, both of which can express your wishes about end-of-life care. A living will allows you to specify the type of life-sustaining nutrition (if any) that you want to receive if you are in a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state with no chance of recovery. On the other hand, a health care power of attorney allows you to appoint a person to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions. A health care power of attorney covers not only decisions related to end-of-life care, but all other health care decisions.

At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of senior citizens and their families who have suffered injuries from abuse or neglect, whether physical, emotional, or financial, while under the care of those are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

The Future of Caregiving

Merrill Lynch and Age Wave recently collaborated on a research study about non-professional or informal caregivers for elderly individuals. These caregivers include family members, friends, and self-employed caregivers who offer their services on a full or part-time basis. The report highlights the priorities and preferences of these informal caregivers, whether they are providing in-home care or supplemental care for a loved one residing in a facility. Due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, there is now a caregiving crunch, meaning that the need for caregiving is causing family members to provide more informal caregiving than ever before.

According to the study, 40 million Americans are now providing some informal caregiving duties for almost 50 million elderly adults. The need for informal caregiving has grown exponentially, as half of the caregivers only began their duties within the past year. At this point, seven in ten Americans who are turning 65 today will need some level of prolonged care in their lives. Overall, family caregivers provide more than 37 billion hours of care each year. This amounts to about $500 billion in informal caregiving, which is three times greater than Medicaid’s annual expenditures on long-term care. The main reason for the prevalence of informal caregiving is the staggering cost of professional care, which ranges on average from $46,000 per year for in-home professional health care to $82,000 per year for a semi-private room in a nursing home.

The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how devastating it can be when you entrust your loved one to the care of others, only to have that trust completely betrayed. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and those of your loved ones in all types of circumstances. We handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases on a daily basis, and we know how to get the relief to which you may be entitled. Don’t hesitate to fight back against a neglectful or abusive nursing care and assistance living facility that has caused harm to your loved one. Contact us today and see how we can help.

Strategies to Reduce Nursing Home Care Needs Following Hospitalization

Back in October, the AARP Public Policy Institute published an article that highlighted different states’ strategies in terms of reducing the risk of long-term nursing home care following a period of hospitalization. According to the article, in 2015, one out of every five hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries was discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Although most of these individuals stayed only a few days or weeks in a SNF, some ended up staying for much longer periods of time, especially those who suffer from dementia or are very frail. Medicare covers only the first 100 days after a hospitalization of three days or more; if an individual needs to stay beyond that timeframe, then he or she may have difficulty paying for the costs, unless he or she qualifies for Medicaid. However, there are some ways that states can utilize certain strategies in order to reduce nursing home care needs after hospitalization, which also should minimize the expenses of long-term care.

First, states can develop a community transition plan to help nursing home residents return to the community as quickly as possible. These plans outline what resources are available to the residents and what costs are covered. The resident and his or her loved ones then can decide what the next steps should be, with the ultimate goal of transitioning back into the community.

States also could attempt to divert appropriate individuals directly into their homes with supportive services after hospitalization, rather than discharge them to SNFs. If home health care services, therapists, and/or other sources of community care are available to assist the individual at home, he or she may be able to skip the SNF stay altogether. While doing this takes some individualized planning, it can help reduce or eliminate SNF stays.

While the movement toward reducing long stays at SNFs is positive, there are still some individuals who must stay in SNFs for longer periods of time. The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities live up to reasonable standards in caring for their residents. When a nursing home or other type of facility fails to do so, and injury to a resident occurs, the facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

Lawmakers Seek CMS Revision of Long-Term Care Requirements

With “Phase 2” of the new requirements of participation for long-term care providers set to go into effect on November 28th, 120 members of Congress have submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging them to reconsider these conditions. These lawmakers believe that the new requirements will be a substantial financial burden on skilled nursing facilities, and want CMS to either delay or reevaluate the new provider requirements. Most recently, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) has backed these lawmakers in order to place more pressure on CMS to change the requirements that are poised to go into effect.

In anticipation of the changes, some facilities have gone ahead and begun initiating new practices and programs so as to comply with the rules. According to CMS, the new requirements update standards of practice for long-term care providers, distinguish the level of care needed in a facility with different types of residents, and changes in the quality of care for residents. On the other hand, providers claim that despite the compliance guidance given to them by CMS in June, there has been an insufficient period of time for providers to respond to and comply with the regulations. Plus, providers point out the substantial financial burdens on them that will occur with implementation of the rule; even CMS admits that the estimated costs of a facility’s compliance will be $62,900 and $55,000 for subsequent years. So far, CMS has agreed to delay implementation of the penalties for violating the new rules. However, CMS has taken no action to reevaluate or stop the launch of the new requirements.

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a caretaker, whether in a home health care setting, nursing home, or other long-term care facility, you may have a valid personal injury claim. This type of situation makes it essential to contact an experienced Wisconsin neglect and abuse attorney in order to protect your rights and obtain the financial relief that you deserve. Certain individuals have an obligation under the law to report suspected abuse or neglect of an elderly individual or nursing home or other facility resident. Those who fail to do so must face the consequences of their actions. Hold negligent Wisconsin care providers responsible for their actions. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you.

High-Cost Frail Adults Comprise 44% of Preventable Medicare Spending

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that although medically frail elderly persons comprise only four percent of the Medicare population, they account for 44% of Medicare spending. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health further concluded that this degree of spending on this demographic may be preventable in many situations.

The Harvard study analyzed fee-for-service claims of over six million “high-cost” Medicare beneficiaries. Researchers used algorithms, as well as in-patient and related 30-day associated post-acute costs of ambulatory care-sensitive conditions to sum costs of avoidable emergency department visits by these individuals. Using this method of analysis, the team found that 4.8% of Medicare spending is potentially preventable, the vast majority (73.8%) of which is incurred by the high-cost frail elderly. Accordingly, only four percent of the Medicare population is elderly and frail, but yet they account for 43.9% of the potentially preventable spending, which is almost $6,600 per person. Potentially preventable spending included treatment for urinary tract infections, heart failure, dehydration, and bacterial pneumonia.

Up until this study, there had been little time and effort spent studying potentially preventable Medicare costs for this small but expensive group of Medicare beneficiaries. With this information in hand, they can work toward shifting away from high-cost care toward value-based care, primarily through prevention techniques and other avenues designed to eliminate unnecessary spending.

Developing a medical condition that leads to frailty in an older adult is only one of the many situations that skilled nursing care may be necessary. Unfortunately, residing in a nursing home all too often can lead to abuse or neglect by caregivers. If you or a loved one is seriously injured as a result of elder abuse, or your family has suffered the loss of a loved one due to negligence by nursing home or assisted living facility staff, you may be entitled to compensation. This inquiry involves determining which party or entity was at fault for the accident, acted negligently, or otherwise caused the incident that led to your injuries or your loved one’s death. At Boller & Vaughan, our Madison assisted living facility and nursing home elder abuse lawyers can help you with these determinations, and support you through any personal injury or wrongful death claims that you may have.

HUD Tests Model to Delay Nursing Home Care

According to a recent article, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed a plan for a supportive services model that would cut down on senior citizens’ emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalizations, and nursing home placements. With seniors already testing out demonstration communities throughout the country, HUD now is seeking some feedback from stakeholders in the project. So far, HUD has spent about $15 million in demonstration grants in order to test this new approach for senior services and healthcare. HUD designed these projects through several research initiatives, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In support of these projects, HUD will be collecting health and wellness information from about 4,000 seniors who already are living in HUD-assisted senior housing sites. These communities employ a full-time enhanced service coordinator and a part-time wellness nurse, and are located in Illinois, California, Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Michigan. The goal of these projects is avoid more costly alternatives for seniors who need medical treatment and supportive services that can be addressed within their communities with the help of the new employees. For low-income seniors, this plan may delay their admission to a skilled nursing facility. This is referred to as “aging in place,” and it is also important given the huge growth in the number of senior citizens as the Baby Boomers continue to retire.

Boller & Vaughan knows the devastation that can occur when nursing homes and other long-term care facilities negligently allow their residents to be neglected and/or abused. Fortunately, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you through any type of elder abuse or neglect claim, particularly when injury results from a wholly preventable issue. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we can help. All too often, residents and their families are reluctant to demand justice for situations that occurred in the resident’s care. In this situation, you can count on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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