Articles Posted in Elder Population Studies

A scathing report by the Office of Inspector General shows that 25 percent of nursing home abuse cases go unreported. Of these unreported cases, 80 percent involved an allegation of sexual abuse or rape of an elderly person. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has promised to do more to identify abuse and neglect, and step up its enforcement whenever it occurs.

missing-patient-300x196According to CBS, this horrific problem has two main causes. First, CMS lacks the procedures and protocols necessary to ensure nursing homes are reporting abuse. Second, in the rare case that a nursing home does run afoul of the law – the fines are so insignificantly small that its cheaper for businesses to just pay the fine, rather than increase staff or the quality of their retirement home. Continue reading

A report by Mobilization for Justice has shined a light on how the popular use of “day passes” at nursing home facilities have been used to confine their elderly residents and limit their freedom. Originally intended to keep track of their elderly residents, most nursing homes required patients to attain a “day pass” whenever they would like to leave the facility. According to critics, this can leave elderly residents feeling like confined prisoners– only being allowed to leave at the discretion of their nursing homes.

The “day passelderly-couple-300x264” policy, while common in most nursing homes, also varies significantly in its implementation. Some nursing homes may restrict hours that their residents can leave the facility, others may issue unclear guidelines for when a day pass may be approved, or apply them arbitrarily to different residents. According to the Mobilization for Justice, other assisted living facilities require residents to provide detailed information about their whereabouts, or may require the resident to be joined by an escort. Some even force residents to be “cleared” by a physician to ensure they are in a clear, capable state of mind to leave the nursing home. Continue reading

In a case that could have far reaching consequences, a group of New York’s home care workers are challenging a state policy providing only thirteen-hours of pay for home care workers performing a 24-hour shift. The Department of Labor previously created the so-called “thirteen-hour rule” for home care workers to ensure they were not being paid to sleep or eat, which it calculated to take up eight and three hours, respectively. According to the Department of Labor, if the worker does not receive time to sleep or eat then he or she should be paid for their time.

courthouse-300x208The home health care agency named in the suit, Human Care, argued that the Department of Labor’s policy should apply. According to Human Care’s attorneys, the conclusion that home health care workers should be paid twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week is absurd.
The group of home care workers disagree. According to their lawsuit, because they are obligated to stay by their client’s side for the full twenty-four hours then they are working for that entire time and deserve to be compensated. Continue reading

Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken a stand against elder abuse by signing a new law that requires state agencies to develop guidelines to help better identify elder abuse. According to Gov. Cuomo, the new guidelines will be proactive by establishing guidelines to help identify cases of elder abuse, self-neglect and maltreatment and comprehensive by following-up with any at-risk senior citizens. Further, these guidelines will be shared not only with state agencies, but also with healthcare providers who are often in the best position to identify potential elder abuse.

This new law hopes to increase the reporting rate by educating and empowering neutral third-parties that frequently interact with senior citizens in the state – including government agencies, healthcare providers and even banks. According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, sponsor elderly-woman-on-phone-300x200of the bill, involving the healthcare industry will be pivotal in countering “one of the most under-reported crimes” in the nation. Because the doctor-patient relationship generally involves an implicit trust and regular interactions (especially for elderly citizens), Lupardo notes that healthcare providers are in the best position to assess and monitor potential elder abuse. Continue reading

As part of President Trump’s promise to roll-back federal regulations, the Trump administration has announced its intention to scrap a federal rule prohibiting nursing homes from requiring their residents to pursue legal claims through arbitration.

In the simplest terms, arbitration is a catch-all term for a dispute-resolution that, while legally binding, does not utilize the court system. The practice has exploded in popularity in recent decades – especially among larger corporations and nursing homes. These entities prefer arbitration because the costs are generally lower, the dispute resolution process moves much faster than the courts, and parties generally do not have a right to appeal thus providing both parties some finality to their dispwalking-out-300x225ute. Opponents of arbitration say the extra-judicial process favors corporate interests and curtails the rights of victims – from limiting discovery to removing the opportunity to appeal. Further, arbitration also removes the right for a person to have their case heard before a jury, and instead substitutes a so-called “neutral arbitrator.”
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As more than 10,000 Americans join the 65-and-over club daily, financial exploitation of the elderly is becoming increasingly more common and states are making moves to protect their senior citizens. Financial abuse, one of the four types of elder abuse (the other three include sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse) involves the “illegal or improper use of a senior citizen’s funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft perpetrated against older adults,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Currently 33 states have laws directly addressing financial abuse of the elder – a nine-state increase since 2015.

wallet-300x225Advocates say that the largest problem with prosecuting financial abuse of the elderly is that it often goes unreported. First, many elderly victims do not even know that a crime has been committed. For example, Mariana Cooper, an elderly widow living by herself, gave a $217,000 loan to a woman who had slyly gained her trust. It was not until six months after she realized she was not going to be repaid that Ms. Cooper alerted the police. Even then, Ms. Cooper only filed a report at the urging of her daughter who, again, only found out until six months after-the-fact. Telling her story to the New York Times, she said she felt because she freely gave the money away that no crime had been committed and she was too ashamed to tell her family how she had been cruelly defrauded.

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In a new study released by Columbia University School of Nursing, a quarter of nursing homes had a “significant presence” of multidrug-resistant bacteria. The study reviewed eight prior studies, and the reported rates of drug-resistant bacteria ranged from 11 percent to a whopping 59 percent – with 27 percent the average. Multi-drug resistant bacteria are especially dangerous to nursing home patients, where patients frequently have other medical ailments, a weakened immune system, and increased exposure to germs and bacteria. These drug-resistant types of bacteria can cause serious infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections and menangitis.

pills8-300x225Unfortunately these results are not surprising. The CDC warns that multi-drug resistant bacteria are on the rise throughout the world, owed largely to the widespread (and commonly unnecessary) use of antibiotics. The once easily-defeated bacteria have adapted and now built a resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, drug makers are also pushing fewer new antibiotics to market. Put together, health experts warn of an impending health crisis. Continue reading

 New York Nursing Homes Cannot Tell Patients They Only Provide “Short-Term” Service

According to the New York Department of Health, a growing number of New York nursing homes are illegally telling potential patients that their facility only provides short-term care. Under New York law, this is illegal – there is no such thing as a “short-term” nursing home. In order to be licensed by the state, the facility must provide both short-term and long-term skilled nursing care. Further, it is illegal to discriminate against residents that may have long-term needs.

New York Nursing Homes Cannot Discriminate on the Basis of Payment

As the number of senior-citizens in New York City is expected to rapidly increase in the near-future, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling for a city-wide, long-term plan to meet the needs of New York’s senior population. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of senior citizens (those over the age of 65) rose 19.2% percent. By 2040, New York City estimates that there will be 1.4 million senior citizens living in the five boroughs. According to the Comptroller, this rising demographic will have special needs that require an agency-by-agency approach to ensure an affordable and high-quality standard of living.

New York City’s senior citizens have unique needs. From a financial standpoint, almost 40 percent depend on governmental assistance for more than half of their income. The group also tends to spend more of their income on rent than other age groups – six out of ten senior citizens spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income just paying rent. To mitigate this problem, the Comptroller proposes freezing rents for senior citizens, expanding tax credits to senior citizens that own their homes and provide services to help finance home improvements that make homes more “senior-citizen friendly.”

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On October 18, 2016, six individuals were arrested in New York for  exploiting the financial vulnerability of nursing home residents; defendants are from Bronx, New York, Queens and Suffolk Counties. The five New York City defendants stole personal identity information from residents in order to secure cash or credit they were not entitled to; and the defendant from Suffolk County stole a necklace from a 95 year old female resident. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman stated it is “reprehensible for caregivers to steal from defenseless residents in order to line their own pockets.” He continued to say his office will not tolerate financial exploitation and will vigilantly work to ensure nursing home resident’s personal and financial information is protected.  The six cases are summarized below:

  1. Diana English, Director of Social Services at Far Rockaway Nursing Home in Queens – Allegedly removed an elderly resident from the home and took him to his bank to withdraw money without the required medical clearance on June 24, 2015. The resident withdrew $500 from his account and gave it to the director; this occurred several times. The resident passed away the following month; English accessed his account with his PIN number and stole $1,200 from his account. The resident suffered from an anxiety disorder, physical issues due to hip replacement surgery, short and long term memory deficits , cognitive deficits and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens County and is being charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
  2. Sandra Rivera-Tapia, Director of Social Work at Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Queens – Allegedly obtained a resident’s ATM card and PIN number and stole $7,418 from the account. The money was acquired by making several cash withdrawals from various ATM’s in her neighborhood and throughout New York City, as well as store purchases on the card. The resident suffered from schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, sublaxation of the right hip, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension and was unable to care for himself. She was arraigned in New York City Criminal Court – Queens county and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Third Degree.
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