Woman Who Wandered Outside WI Nursing Home Found Dead

An 88-year-old woman was found dead earlier this year near the Rice Lake Convalescent Center after apparently wandering outside the facility in the middle of the night. Rice Lake is an 85-bed private for-profit facility. The woman was outside a door to the building and apparently had been outside the building for at a least a few hours. Multiple employees reported that they had seen the woman wandering the hallways of the center in the past. Facility representatives declined to comment on the woman’s mental status or the reasons for her residence in the facility.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, a nursing home houses five or more persons unrelated to the operator or administrator. These individuals receive care and treatment at the home, but because of their physical or mental condition, need access to some level of 24-hour nursing services. All too often, understaffed, underfunded, and overcrowded nursing homes cause residents to go neglected and untreated. This so-called “passive” neglect occurs when any type of caregiver fails to provide an older individual with the necessities of life, including food, water, clothing, or shelter.

Older Americans with dementia often end up experiencing abuse and neglect, usually at the hands of their caregivers. Family members and friends with elderly loved ones who are dependent on home health care providers or assisted living facility care, or nursing home care, should be aware of the signs of potential neglect and abuse. Some common signs of neglect include bedsores that never heal, unexplained bruising and other injuries, poor hygiene, missed doctor appointments, unusual weight loss, lack of appetite, and depression.

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 call our office today and learn how we can help.

Elder Abuse and Prevention Act May Become Law in 2017

According to Financial Advisor’s recent article by Ted Knutson, the Elder Abuse and Prevention Act has a good chance of becoming a law in 2017. The key sponsor of this bill is Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, who fully believes that the law will pass in the near future. One reason that Grassley gave for the bill’s likelihood of passing was the fact that a very similar version was very close to passing last year, but Congress simply ran out of time during that legislative session. Susan Collins, Aging Committee Chair, is co-sponsoring this legislation with Grassley. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, 2017; the goal is for the bill to come before the full Senate for a vote before the end of the legislative session.

The Elder Abuse and Prevention Act is designed to make society a safer place for seniors. The bill targets senior financial exploitation and abuse by increasing penalties for telemarketing and email marketing fraud against seniors. Likewise, the bill would provide that at least one Justice Department attorney in each federal judicial district would focus his or her efforts on prosecuting elder fraud. The bill also would require that multiple parties maintain much more detailed and expansive data relating to elder abuse, with the goal of making prosecutions of elder abuse a much more common occurrence. The Justice Department also would initiate more training for state and local governments dealing with elder abuse and fraud.

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. 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.

How to Recognize Financial Abuse of the Elderly

As the American population ages, individuals often become particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and exploitation. For this reason, loved ones of older Americans should take the time to familiarize themselves with the common signs of financial abuse. Recognizing the signs of potential financial abuse may allow you to save an elderly loved one from losing great sums of money to unsavory people who are looking for an opportunity to financially exploit them.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 90% of the perpetrators of elderly financial abuse are people known to the victims. This can include caregivers, relatives, friends of the family, or neighbors. Therefore, you can never assume that just because your loved one has no contact with anyone other than relatives and friends that he or she is safe from financial abuse. Here are some of the most common warning signs of the potential for financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly:

  • An elderly individual who previously was sharp and alert begins to show difficulty in remembering important matters, such as finances
  • Physical frailty causes an older individual to become dependent on others to perform physical chores around the house or provide other caregiving activities
  • An elderly individual lives in isolation and no friends or relatives check on him or her regularly
  • Questionable behavior by relatives, such as suddenly spending a great deal of time with an elderly loved one or seeming to have a new, more expensive lifestyle

Keep in mind that many incidents of financial abuse go unreported, often because the victim is unaware of the abuse or is too embarrassed to admit that it occurred. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from financial abuse, even if it is by a relative or caregiver, you should immediately take the steps necessary to stop the abuse from occurring, including notifying the proper authorities, if necessary.

At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of senior citizens and their families who have suffered substantial injuries, 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 home health care abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.

Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes

In a recent CNN investigation, two journalists detail their findings about sexual abuse of senior citizens while residing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residential institutions. While the investigation revealed no hard data about the incidence of sexual assault and abuse in nursing homes, the information found did make it clear that this type of abuse occurs far more frequently than one might think. Furthermore, the investigation also showed that nursing homes and government officials are doing little, if anything, to combat or even address this problem.

The reported incidents resulted in roadblocks for seniors and their families at every step of the process. All too often, seniors with poor memories or dementia could not properly give details about or even identify the perpetrators of sexual abuse, which makes it difficult to accurately report incidents to authorities or nursing home personnel. In turn, nursing homes are reluctant to investigate or even acknowledge that such an incident could have occurred. Law enforcement authorities also see the senior victims’ lack of clear statements and cloudy memories as detrimental and even fatal to the prosecution of these types of claims. Furthermore, the lack of a clear or reasonable system for reporting abuse has led to state regulators failing to take action against even serial rapists who prey on the elderly who are confined to nursing homes.

Even if an alleged rapist is eventually held responsible through the criminal justice system, the nursing home or other facility that employed the perpetrator is rarely found to have committed any violations or to be negligent in any way. For instance, in one situation, a nursing home was cleared of all wrongdoing after a male nursing assistant was found guilty of sexually abusing a resident, even after authorities learned that the man had been investigated for similar allegations in the past, but never removed from service.

We are the Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers whom you can turn to if you suspect or become aware of staff members’ abuse of your loved one while residing in a nursing home. Regardless of the complexity or difficulty of your situation, the Madison injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are prepared to advocate on behalf of your loved one and hold nursing home or other long-term care facilities responsible for any abuse that has occurred.

Questions to Ask When Exploring Nursing Home Options

Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is no small decision. All of the different options can be downright confusing, particularly when you are trying to balance concerns such as affordability, individualized care options, services offered, and medical care provided in terms of the needs of your loved one. Fortunately, there are some common questions that you can and should ask when inquiring into long-term care options for your family member or loved one.

First, you want to a get a sense of how the facility will offer your loved one individualized, personal care. Will your loved one’s caregivers know his or her name? Will he or she have the same caregivers on a regular basis? How will staff members know about your loved one’s individual needs?

Next, get a sense of what type of schedule your loved one will enjoy in particular facility. Is your loved one required to get up at a certain time? How flexible are meal times? Can your loved one obtain food in between meals if needed, or a different meal if he or she does not like the main entree? Are there recreational activities available for your loved one on a daily basis? Is your loved one required to go to bed at a certain time each day? Are there are any differences in the weekday and the weekend schedules? How often can my loved one bathe or how do staff members ensure that he or she bathes on a regular basis?

Another important question is the role of the family in your loved one’s care. Are family members welcome at all times and on all days? Can family members eat meals with nursing home residents? Are there are any restrictions on when family members can be present in the resident’s room or the common areas of the nursing home?

You entrust your loved one to the nursing home so that he or she is properly cared for. If a facility fails to provide your loved one with an even basic level of reasonable care, it is likely that negligence occurred, which may make that facility liable for the resulting injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses that you or your family member has suffered. Call our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at Boller & Vaughan and learn what we can do for you and your family.

Long-Term Care Providers Face New CMS Participation Requirements

Most long-term care providers are aware of the new participation rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and that the current deadline for Phase 2 compliance with this rule is set for November 28, 2017. Nonetheless, many in the industry are continuing to push for additional time. The main components of the new rule are admission, visitation, and grievance policies.

In terms of admissions policies, long-term care facilities must focus on getting a more extensive social history at the time of admission. For instance, facilities must be aware of whether newly admitted residents have any substance abuse issues. Even if the resident doesn’t tell the truth, there must be extensive records indicating that facility employees tried to get as much truthful information as possible.

While CMS previously pushed for a 24/7 visitation policy, the new rule relaxes this requirement to some degree. Visitation access around the clock, according to providers, creates several different problems, including adequate staffing and measures to handle the visits of dysfunctional family members. For example, one provider cited the problems caused by a family member visiting a resident at 2:00 a.m. who repeatedly turned on the television and disturbed the resident’s roommate. Family members who visit at all hours without proper supervision also can endanger residents, such as by providing them with cigarettes while they are on oxygen, offering food that the resident is unable to swallow, or adjusting tube feedings or medications.

Grievance policies also are a major focus of the new CMS rule. The goal is to have a people-oriented person in charge of any grievances, who can keep meticulous records of complaints and decisions. The person in charge of grievances also should be wary of how complaints are described and/or worded; failing to do so can lead to a cause of action against the facility.

Abusive actions toward residents of nursing homes or community based residential facilities sometimes can result in significant injuries. What’s worse is that many of these abuse incidents are wholly preventable. The Wisconsin long-term care abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how to protect your loved ones’ rights. Our law firm handles these types of personal injury cases on a regular basis and is experienced in advocating on behalf of clients just like you. We are here to help you fight back against the healthcare facility that caused harm to your loved one, and to get any compensation to which you are entitled.

How Much Long-Term Care Will I Need?

Long-term care is defined as the support and services necessary to meet an individual’s health and/or personal care needs over an extended period of time. The reality is that an individual who is turning 65 years of age today has nearly a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services in the remainder of his or her lifetime. Although one-third of individuals in this age group will never need long-term care, 20% of these individuals will need long-term care services for a period of five years or longer. Additionally, women tend to have a greater need for long-term care for a longer period of time (3.7 years) as opposed to men (2.2 years).

On the whole, older Americans are more likely to use long-term care services in the home as opposed to in a facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. 65% of individuals use in-home long-term care for a period of at least two years, 59% of which is unpaid for at least one year. On the other hand, 42% of individuals use paid in-home care for less than one year. Only 37% of these individuals require long-term care through some sort of facility. More specifically, 35% of these individuals require one year of care in a nursing facility and 13%, less than one year of care in an assisted living facility.

While long-term care is a necessary part of life for many older individuals, there always is the risk of neglect or abuse at the hands of those caregivers who are entrusted with the care of these individuals. The nursing home neglect lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who have been neglected in some way while residing in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other similar institution. We can seek compensation for you through the personal injury or wrongful death claim process, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you and your family might have experienced, and moving on with your lives. Don’t hesitate to call our office today and learn how we can help.

What are Accelerated Death Benefits?

Many individuals have declined to purchase long-term care insurance, mostly out of fear of spending money on a situation that never occurs. As a result, some life insurance companies have offered variations on traditional life insurance policies in order to induce consumers to purchase some degree of long-term care funding. Accelerated death benefits (ADBs) are a feature of some life insurance policies, which allows you to use some of the policy’s death benefit prior to death, as a sort of cash advance. These benefits often come at an additional premium, but may be an automatic provision in some policies. By using these accelerated death benefits, either alone or in conjunction with other life insurance-related products, you may be able to fund the steadily rising costs of long-term care, either for yourself or for a loved one.

There are different types of ABDs that are available in different situations. For instance, ABDs may cover one or more of the following situations:

  • Terminal illness
  • Life-threatening diagnosis
  • Need for long-term care for an extended period of time
  • Permanent confinement to a nursing home due to an inability to perform the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, or brushing one’s teeth

Many ADB policies that cover long-term care services are capped at 50% of the policy’s death benefit. Some policies, however, will allow you to lose the entire amount of the death benefit. Most policies allow you to use two percent of the face value of the life insurance on a monthly basis. If home care is needed and is covered by the policy, then the monthly limit is typically one-half of that amount. Whatever the amount of ADB that you receive from your life insurance policy, that amount is subtracted from the amount that the policy will pay out to your beneficiaries upon your death.

There are some important considerations to take into account, however, in deciding whether to purchase a life insurance policy with ADBs. For example, qualifying for a policy with ADBs may not require you to undergo health screenings, such as might be required if you attempted to purchase long-term care insurance. Thus, if you have a health condition that might prohibit you from qualifying for long-term care insurance, then an ADB policy may be your best option. On the other hand, ADB policies often are much more limited than the services that are typically covered by long-term care insurance. Additionally, the face value of your life insurance policy may be too low to sufficiently provide for your long-term care needs. If this is the case, then you may need additional coverage or another source from which to fund long-term care.

Unfortunately, long-term care also can result in problems that may lead to serious injuries or even death, in some cases. If you have lost a loved one as a result of any type of abuse or neglect while he or she was residing in a nursing home or residential facility, 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 conditions that led to your loved one’s death. At Boller & Vaughan, our Madison elder abuse lawyers can help you with these determinations, and support you through any wrongful death claims that you may have.

Aging Profiles in the State of Wisconsin

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory, the number of Wisconsin residents who are older than 65 years of age will double within 30 years. The last census in 2010 accounted for 777,000 of Wisconsin residents over the age of 65. The study projects that this demographic will leap to 1.5 million over a 30-year period. Likewise, the number of residents over the age of 85 will almost triple in number, increasing from 118,500 in 2010 to 287,000 in 2040. A major reason for this increase in the elderly population is the movement of the baby boomer generation, or those individuals who were born between 1946 and 1964, into these age groups.

Part of this increase in the number of Wisconsin residents is attributable to a continuing rise in life expectancy. If data holds true, the life expectancy of a male will rise from 77.3 years to 81.5 years, and the life expectancy of a female will rise from 82 to 85.7. This significant rise in life expectancies is spurred by the development of medical care and technology.

These statistics hold true not only for the state of Wisconsin, but also for the entire nation. Americans tend to retire five years earlier than they did in 1950 and live about 12 years longer. By most estimates, some 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day across the United States. As a result of this population shift, experts anticipate that funding for Medicaid will increase significantly, as will the need for more primary care physicians, nurses, and affordable dental care.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities refrain from hurting or neglecting their residents in any way. When a nursing facility violates a nursing home resident’s rights, and injury occurs as a result, the nursing 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.

Common Signs of Neglect in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Resident

While nursing home neglect is not always easily detectable, there are some red flags to look out for if a loved one is residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Discovering and putting a stop to situations involving neglect will not only help safeguard your loved one’s health, but also help prevent perpetrators of neglect from treating other elderly residents in a neglectful manner.

First, watch out for signs of increasingly poor hygiene in your loved one. Many adults who reside in nursing homes have difficulty with certain tasks of daily living related to hygiene, such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and combing hair. If a caregiver fails to provide this type of care, and a resident is unable to complete these tasks on their own, then the resident may be suffering from neglect.

Unsanitary conditions also may be a sign of neglect in the nursing facility environment. Your loved one’s physical environment should be cleaned on a regular basis. Messes or accidents should be cleaned up immediately. Bedding should be clean and changed on a regular basis. Infection is already a concern in most medical care facilities, so it is important to protect your loved one from these risks, which can occur in the context of neglect.

An increasing loss of mobility also may be cause for concern. If your loved one is left to sit in the bed, chair, or wheelchair for hours at a time, not only may he or she lose much-needed mobility and develop pressure sores from remaining in the same position. Loss of mobility also can lead to falls or other preventable injuries.

Boller & Vaughan knows the ins and outs of elder neglect and abuse law and has the experience necessary to help you through any type of elder neglect and abuse claim, including incidents involving elder financial, physical, and mental abuse. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we are here to 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.

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