As the old saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. Everyone may not age in the same way, or with the same grace, but what is certain is that as people age it is common for some to require the help of others to go about their daily lives. Many individuals move into nursing homes or assisted living facilities as they grow older and are unable to live independently any longer. According to a survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1.5 million Americans resided in nursing homes in 2004. That number will only increase as baby boomers reach retirement age and beyond. By the year 2030, 18% of the country will be aged 65 or older and some of them will require care from nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Making sure these facilities are safe for aging loved ones is the highest priority for anyone who needs their services.
Nursing home negligence has some of the most egregious patterns reported in this country. Some reports tell stories of neglect, over-medication, under-medication, abuse and even wrongful death. These reports are not limited to facilities in Illinois, but they are widespread throughout the state. Incorrect use of prescription medication is one of the leading types of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and takes many forms. One common type of abuse in nursing homes is chemical restraint via medication. When nursing home staff is incompetent and cannot provide the level of care required for some residents, many turn to prescription medication to sedate residents rather than get them the care they need. What is even more egregious is that many nursing home administrators condone this behavior in order to control what they consider unruly residents.
Rights of Residents
What many may not know is that nursing homes and assisted living facilities owe a duty to their residents and can be held responsible when they fail to provide the correct level of care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act protects the rights of residents by guaranteeing that they are provided all rights as a U.S. citizen, including the freedom of speech and religion, the right to manage their affairs, the right to privacy and respect, and the right to refuse medical treatment. These rights, among others, belong to each resident and cannot be taken away. If a resident believes that his or her rights are being impeded by facility staff or procedures, he or she also has the right to file grievances without fear of reprisal.
Elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is a serious problem in Illinois. There is hope, however, as the Illinois legislature has created laws to protect against this type of abuse and residents have the power to protect their rights in court. It is not easy to give up the independence of living in one’s own home to live in an assisted living environment and residents should not then have to fight to protect themselves from callous administrators and staff. As the American population ages, care must be taken that the rights and privileges of our parents, grandparents and loved ones are respected so that they may focus on more important matters, like enjoying all life has to offer.
If you are concerned that your loved one has been harmed in a nursing home or assisted living facility, a legal professional can help. Reach out to the Buffalo Grove elder abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for immediate assistance.