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Perhaps the most obvious structural reason to be concerned about nursing homes is the ability of our elder care institutions to absorb the number of seniors that will need long term care over the next few decades.  In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will be more than double the current population of 40.2 million.
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Most people recognize the growing need for the assistive care of the elderly in the United States.  Because many are reluctant to place their loved one in a true nursing home environment, the "assisted living" community has been an option many have turned to in recent years.  However, assisted living communities escape many governmental regulations that may put your loved one at great risk of danger.

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President Reagan signed The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act or OBRA '87 in 1987 which included a set of minimum standards for care and a Bill of Rights for people living in certified nursing facilities.  Among other rights, OBRA '87 gave every patient the right to be free of unnecessary and inappropriate physical and chemical restraint.  This body of laws defined the term "chemical restraint" to include "any drug that is used for discipline or convenience and not required to treat medical symptoms." 42 C.F.R. § 483.13.  Why would medications be used inappropriately in the first place?


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Nursing home abuse of the elderly takes many forms; it can be physical, emotional, financial, and even sexual.  Nearly one-third of all nursing homes have been cited for actual nursing home abuse. My partner Samuel C. Rumph wrote an interesting article regarding this topic.

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If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, you may already know that falls pose a serious risk for their elderly population.  An average nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls annually according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many more go unreported.  “One third of community-dwelling elderly persons and 60 percent of nursing home residents fall each year.”[1] Minimizing the risk of falls for your loved one requires several approaches to deal with the unique factors which can predispose your loved one to this type of injury.


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In our last article, we looked at some alarming U.S. statistics regarding deficiencies noted in the care of residents in a nursing home environment. While there are many issues that can arise involving unsatisfactory patient care, one that is becoming increasingly prevalent is the development of pressure sores on patients.

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted studies from 2005 to 2007 on nursing homes and found that over 91% of nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies.

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This purpose of this post is to write briefly on how you can become your loved one's best healthcare advocate in a nursing home environment. Despite good steps taken by you in ensuring placement in a good quality nursing home or assisted living facility, unfortunately it does not mean that your loved one will be immune from suffering harms within a nursing home or assisted care environment. Some may even be wondering, “what if my loved one is already in a nursing home?”

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If you have made the decision that your loved one needs to be placed in a nursing home, choosing the right facility may seem like an overwhelming task, but it does not have to be, especially if it is taken in small segments.

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Previously, we looked at whether your loved one may need a nursing home. The options existing for today's growing elderly population, our baby boomer generation, are much more extensive than what you might realize.

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The decision to place your loved one in a nursing home may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever have to make.  However, good communications with your loved one(s) about why this may be beneficial and your understanding of available options will make any potential transition into long term care, whether a nursing home or an assisted living environment, much easier.

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