Some people might not normally consider substance abuse as something that could be a problem for a veteran in the nursing home; however, according to Clinical Geriatric Medicine, nursing is seeing increasing numbers of older adults with alcohol or substance abuse problems.
Seniors typically have several medical conditions that can lead them to take a number of medications at the same time. Some of these medications, including opioids for relieving pain, can be addictive and lead to problems with substance abuse. Alcohol abuse can also be a problem in nursing homes.
If a facility knows that a resident is abusing any medications or alcohol, for example, they should be taking steps to address the problem. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, substance abuse in seniors can result in the worsening of any medical conditions as well as injuries.
Signs of Alcohol or Substance Abuse
Substance abuse in a nursing home should not go undetected for long. If a senior is abusing a substance such as alcohol or medication, there will normally be signs such as:
- Wanting to take increasing amounts of a medication or substance.
- Taking the medication for longer than necessary.
- Trying to obtain more medication or hoarding medication.
- Developing a tolerance to the medication or substance.
- Suffering from withdrawal when stopping the medication or substance.
- Drinking alcohol alone.
- Drinking alcohol every day.
- Memory loss.
A nursing home should monitor all medicines of a resident. Qualified staff should know how to detect signs of substance or alcohol abuse and identify which residents are most at risk. Not stopping substance or alcohol abuse can have catastrophic effects on the health of an elderly veteran.
An overmedicated or inebriated elderly resident could suffer from new medical problems, the worsening of existing conditions, or accidents such as falls. Substance abuse can lead to dangerous interactions with other medications, potentially leading to serious health complications or death. It can also result in costly medical treatments and hospital bills.
Nursing Home Responsibility
A nursing home is, by law, responsible for all aspects of seniors’ care in its facility, including the physical and psychological aspects, according to the Nursing Home Reform Act 42 U.S. Code § 1395i–3. Nursing homes should try to prevent any harm coming to residents due to substance abuse. Veterans can be especially vulnerable to substance abuse when they suffer from any additional medical issues such as chronic pain from an old combat injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How a Nursing Home Can Fail A Veteran in Their Care
Sometimes, a nursing home does not have an adequate number of staff members to ensure residents’ daily needs are met. A high resident-to-staff ratio can save the nursing home money but can also be dangerous for the residents. Rushed and overworked employees are less likely to detect any signs of substance abuse. In fact, overworked staff may even contribute to substance abuse problems.
If a resident demands a certain prescription drug or alcohol, it may be easier for employees of the nursing home to supply the resident with the substance rather than having to deal with an aggravated senior instead. Residents may also be easier to “manage” when overmedicated or inebriated.
The nursing home could also be responsible for not hiring enough qualified staff, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. It takes qualified and trained staff to understand the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and what steps to take for limiting any abuse. Qualified staff should know what to do and when to inform a medical professional with any concerns.
Nursing home neglect is illegal, and there is nothing worse than finding out that your loved one is suffering in their nursing home when help could be available. If you have reason to believe that your loved one is suffering from neglect in their nursing home, and you suspect substance abuse or substandard care, you can speak to a nursing home lawyer about any legal options that might be open to you.
You Could Receive Compensation
If your loved one suffered from any health consequences or injuries due to substance abuse in the nursing home, the nursing home could be responsible for losses such as medical bills, the cost of medical devices, the cost of hospitalization, and others. You could also potentially receive awards for any physical and mental suffering your loved one endured as a result of substance abuse in the nursing home.
Most importantly, you want to make sure that your relative is safe in the nursing home and that they are receiving a good standard of care. This includes careful monitoring of any medicines as well as prohibiting any excessive alcohol consumption or other substance abuse. If there are problems with substance abuse, taking action can help your relative recover.
If you have any questions about nursing home neglect, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm and tell one of our team about your case. We can advise you on any legal options and inform you on how you could seek justice and compensation for your loved one. Call us now for a free consultation by dialing (800) 842-6336.