Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Patients in Nursing Homes
In recognition of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, PKSD’s dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys in Milwaukee are helping to raise awareness of the unique needs of residents diagnosed with dementia.
Due to their illness, nursing home residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are at a higher risk of becoming victims of elder abuse and neglect.
If your loved one has been abused or neglected while in the care of a nursing home, we will fight to protect his or her rights and can help you take action against the liable party.
Dementia is a condition that causes the slow decline of a person’s mental capacity. Once a person develops dementia, he or she will find it difficult to perform simple tasks, recall information and communicate with others.
The symptoms of dementia in nursing home residents vary. Symptoms may start as mild, but will likely increase overtime as his or her dementia progresses.
For a person to be diagnosed with dementia, he or she must have significant impairment in two of the following cognitive functions:
- Language and communication
- Visual perception
- Judgement and reasoning
Stages of Dementia
Dementia is a progressive disease that worsens over time. The condition is categorized by stages, which increase in severity. The stages of dementia are:
- Stage one: The patient still functions normally and is not experiencing memory loss or mental difficulties.
- Stage two: The symptoms are less severe and may include some difficulty recalling memories and remembering events.
- Stage three: This is usually the stage when a person’s dementia becomes apparent. The symptoms are increased and the patient may experience difficulty concentrating, performing at work and choosing the right words.
- Stage four: The resident may have short-term memory issues, difficulty concentrating, problems with completing tasks and may become socially withdrawn. At this point, a cognitive exam should be performed by a physician to diagnose dementia.
- Stage five: The patient will have more prominent memory loss, including forgetting important details of his or her life, like his or her address, phone number or the time of day. Patients in this stage also need assistance with daily activities, like bathing and preparing meals.
- Stage six: The resident will require assistance with daily activities, and he or she may not remember the names of close family members or recent events. The resident will have difficulty recalling most memories, will experience personality changes, and may lose control of his or her bladder and bowels.
- Stage seven: During the final stage of dementia, the resident will have lost his or her ability to communicate, will require assistance for nearly all activities and may lose the ability to move on his or her own.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes memory loss, as well as cognitive difficulties and behavioral issues. It is an incurable disease and is the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease usually appear slowly, but can progress rapidly once the disease has set in. Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss affecting recently learned information
- Behavioral and mood changes
- Unfounded suspicions
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
There are three stages of Alzheimer’s disease that a person will progress through once he or she has been diagnosed with the disorder.
Each stage has a different effect on a person’s body and life and will slowly progress, eventually incapacitating the resident.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease (Early-Stage)
During the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, a person may experience slight cognitive impairment but is often able to function independently. The symptoms of mild Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Misusing words or not coming up with correct words or names
- Difficulty remembering the names of newly introduced people
- Difficulty performing work-related tasks or engaging socially
- Misplacing important or valuable objects
- Difficulty with organization or planning
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease (Middle-Stage)
The middle stage is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s disease and can last for several years. During this stage, the symptoms become more obvious and may include:
- Forgetting personal history
- Experiencing mood changes, such as feeling withdrawn
- Difficulty recalling information such as addresses, phone numbers and personal details
- Sudden changes in sleep pattern
- Issues controlling his or her bladder and bowel
- Frequent confusion about dates, times and locations
- Aimlessly wandering or eloping from a nursing home
- Behavioral and personality changes
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease (Late-Stage)
During the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, a person often loses complete control of his or her physical and cognitive abilities.
The individual will not be able to effectively communicate with others and will need full-time assistance with daily tasks. A person in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease may:
- Be completely unaware of his or her surroundings
- Experience a total decline in his or her physical abilities
- Have no recollection of recent events
- Lose the ability to communicate
- Become increasingly vulnerable to infection
Increased Risks for Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, nursing home residents who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at a high risk of being abused or neglected because of their condition.
Because dementia severely reduces a resident’s communication skills, he or she is often unable to report or recall an act of abuse or the perpetrators. This makes these residents easily susceptible to nursing home abuse, such as:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
It is often left up to family members, loved ones and those familiar with the resident’s personality and behavioral traits to identify abuse or neglect. Nursing home abuse against residents with dementia can be identified by the following characteristics:
- Physical marks such as bruises, burns and cuts
- Sudden depression or changes in mood
- Changes in financial means
- Poor hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Arguments between patient and caregiver
- Bruising around the genitals
If you discover your loved one has been abused or neglected, you should immediately report the nursing home abuse to the proper authorities in Wisconsin. Once you have reported the abuse, contact our attorneys to determine if your loved one is entitled to legal action.
Contact Our Milwaukee Attorneys
Unfortunately, nursing home residents who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often targets for abuse because of their incapacity.
If your loved one has has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, our Milwaukee nursing home abuse lawyers are ready to work with you to file a claim. We are strong advocates of elderly rights and will fight to help you hold the responsible party liable.
To get started, contact an injury lawyer Milwaukee for a free, no-obligation claim consultation to determine if your loved one is entitled to take legal action. We understand the difficulty nursing home abuse victims and their families endure, which is why we only work on contingency and only require payment if we successfully represent your claim.