Older adults often have difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, due to weaker muscles or physical challenges. In some cases, dysphagia can lead to choking, so elderly nursing home residents should always have supervision and monitoring when eating or drinking.
Every resident of a nursing home should have a specific plan of care created to ensure that they receive the appropriate monitoring and care they need for their particular medical conditions. If you believe that your elderly loved one did not receive the proper supervision or care, resulting in choking injuries, a Newark choking lawyer can help you determine your next steps. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at 800-842-6336 to discuss your case with a team member.
Choking Risks in the Elderly
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 50 separate pairs of nerves and muscles work together to create the ability to swallow. Due to increased frailty and muscle loss, many seniors lose the ability to swallow effectively as they age.
When your loved one enters a nursing home, the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 requires the facility to create a specific care plan that addresses all their specific medical needs. This plan of care should include the fact that they have difficulty swallowing and have an appropriate program to supervise or assist them during mealtimes or when they take medications in pill or liquid form.
Medical Conditions That Increase the Risk of Choking
Nursing homes should recognize that certain medical conditions might cause an elderly person to have challenges with swallowing and present a choking risk. The Mayo Clinic lists some common medical conditions that increase the risk of choking, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Dry mouth
- Alzheimer’s disease
Additionally, many seniors have dentures, which make it more difficult to chew specific foods. Nursing home residents who wear dentures would need additional attention during mealtimes to reduce their risk of choking. Every nursing home resident’s care plan and individual chart should clearly show whether they are at risk of choking due to specific medical conditions and therefore need assistance eating, drinking, or taking their medications.
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Dangers Related to Choking
The most significant danger related to choking is death. However, many nursing home residents who survive a choking incident may suffer from aspiration pneumonia. MedlinePlus explains that because inhaled food caused small particles to become trapped inside the lungs, these particles become permanently lodged, causing aspiration pneumonia to develop.
Any elderly resident who suffers from a severe choking episode should remain under careful watch to ensure that they do not develop this condition—and if they do, they receive immediate medical treatment. A Newark choking lawyer can help you determine your next steps after your loved one has received treatment. Contact the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for help in developing your case.
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Prevention of Choking
While it is not possible to prevent every choking incident, your loved one’s nursing home can reduce the risk of most choking events through supervision and precautionary measures.
In all cases of elderly residents who suffer from an increased risk of choking, the nursing home should consistently monitor these residents as they eat, drink, and take medicines. They can help the residents eat or sit with them and control how fast or slow they eat their food to prevent choking. Additionally, many elderly residents who fear choking may not want to eat all their food. Nursing home staff should monitor their intake to ensure they receive proper hydration, nutrition, and medication.
If your loved one has severe dysphagia or issues with choking, the nursing home can blend food so that it is easier for them to swallow, allowing them to continue receiving the nutrition or medications that they need in a form that reduces the likelihood of choking. Caregivers can also cut their food into smaller, more digestible pieces, or add thickening agents to drinks that make them easier to swallow.
In a choking emergency, the nursing home staff should have received proper training regarding the Heimlich maneuver and CPR administration to prevent any fatalities. They also should know when to call 911 and request emergency assistance for any elderly resident experiencing complications after a choking incident.
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Choking and Nursing Home Neglect
If you believe that your elderly loved one suffered a choking incident that resulted in serious injuries, complications, or death, you might have the legal right to pursue compensation and justice on their behalf. Nursing homes have a duty to ensure that their residents receive appropriate monitoring and supervision during mealtimes and when they take their medications.
If a nursing home failed to supervise your loved one, who then suffered injuries due to a choking incident resulting from foreseeable and preventable circumstances, you might have a nursing home neglect case. You could recover compensation for your loved one’s medical bills to treat their injuries, moving expenses if you change facilities following the incident, and their pain and suffering.
If your loved one died because of a choking incident, you could also file a wrongful death claim to recover funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, and other damages. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you investigate the incident and determine fair compensation for your loved one’s injuries.
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Learn How a Newark Choking Lawyer Can Help Your Elderly Loved One
Nursing homes should always supervise and monitor their residents. If you believe that your elderly loved one suffered injuries because of a preventable choking incident in their nursing home, you might have the right to pursue justice on their behalf. A Newark choking lawyer can help you build a negligence case against the nursing home to recover compensation.
Consider contacting the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at 800-842-6336 today. We can help you understand how to protect your legal rights and pursue compensation for your loved one’s injuries.