Abuse of Tennessee Nursing Home Residents with Dementia

Protecting the rights of our elders in Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville, and throughout the state

Many people have a fear of dying, but it might really be more of a fear of growing old and feeling helpless and forgotten and drugged into oblivion. As people grow into their advanced years, some will develop dementia, a brain disorder that affects communication and the person’s ability to perform daily activities according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). It presents as a cluster of symptoms, the best known of which is Alzheimer’s disease (a specific form of dementia). Other causes of dementia include diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, according to Alzheimers.net.

At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm we abhor the practice of nursing home abuse. We are on a mission to make sure that our elderly citizens in Nashville, Gallatin, Knoxville and throughout Tennessee are afforded the respect and proper treatment that they deserve. If you have a loved one who has been abused by the nursing home staff that are supposed to be protecting and caring for them, we want to hear from you.

Early signs and symptoms of dementia

Symptoms of dementia vary, and some forms of dementia start out with mild symptoms that occur occasionally and grow worse gradually. Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Problems with language and communication
  • Diminishing ability to focus and pay attention
  • Lapses in judgement and reasoning
  • Distorted visual perception

Sometimes older people can have occasional bouts of memory loss, but those symptoms alone do not necessarily mean that they have dementia. Some things that cause dementia-like symptoms can be addressed and the symptoms will go away. Talk to a doctor with your concerns and they can determine what might be causing the symptoms.

Abuse of nursing home residents with dementia

Elders who have moderate or advanced dementia symptoms can present behavior that can seem troublesome to nursing home staff and other residents. They can become aggressive and belligerent; they may become anxious or agitated. Some dementia patients will begin to wander around aimlessly and they can become a danger to themselves as they could fall and hurt themselves or wander away from the premises.

Because of their inability to communicate or even to fight back, nursing home residents with dementia become easy targets for abuse from nursing home staff and their fellow residents. Dementia patients are often physically, verbally and sexually abused, but they often become withdrawn and hesitate to tell staff or their family members for fear of more abuse.

Chemical restraint use with dementia patients

Some nursing homes have adopted the practice of using anti-psychotic medications to help manage the challenging behavior of residents with dementia. Anti-psychotic medications have a “black box” warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against using them as a form of chemical restraint on elderly patients with dementia due to a significant risk of causing heart failure, infections, drug dependency and death. It is also against federal law to use drugs as chemical restraints on the elderly. Nursing home residents are guaranteed certain rights in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act such as the right, “To be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity, and to be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimate that about 300,000 nursing home residents who suffer from dementia are being given antipsychotic drugs that dull the symptoms of aggression and anxiety that can occur in patients who suffer from various forms of dementia.

Protecting elderly nursing home residents from abuse

If your loved one who suffers from dementia has been abused in a nursing home, the diligent Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville injury attorneys from the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are eager to help you obtain justice on their behalf. We will investigate their complaint and report any instance of abuse to the authorities. Your loved one may also be in a position to take legal action against the responsible party and receive compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured, medical expenses and in some cases the cost of moving them to another facility where they will feel safe.

Put an end to the abuse today. Call Rocky and he will fight for you.

Call Rocky at 615-246-5549 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices on world famous Music Row in Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville, we are always nearby to fight on your behalf. Our compassionate Nashville nursing home abuse attorneys have the experience and skill to protect your loved one’s rights and get you and your family the results you deserve.