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Advocating for Our Clients During a Difficult Time

Advocating for Our Clients During a Difficult Time

By Lynn Paxson, CSA®, OSA Delaware

An Oasis Senior Advisor’s goal is to ensure that their clients and families find a comfortable place for their older loved one to live. Sometimes clients fit a standard form, and it is easy to find a place that fits their needs and lifestyle. However, many times, despite extensive experience in the senior care industry, the advisor is faced with something new. When faced with a situation that involves elder abuse, an advisor is an indispensable resource for their clients and their families.

Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown that as many as 1 in 3 older people have been victims of elder abuse. Though physical abuse may be the first thing that comes to mind, seniors may also be subject to sexual battery, emotional harm, financial abuse, neglect, or other forms of abuse. Seniors living with dementia are at a higher risk for experiencing abuse or neglect. An estimated 50% of people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia have experienced some form of abuse.

Lynn Paxon, owner of Oasis Senior Advisors Delaware, was met with a new challenge during the midst of the pandemic in February of 2021. A family reached out to her after becoming concerned about the care their mother had been receiving at a rehabilitation facility. 

The family was growing increasingly concerned about their loved one after hearing about her experience. She had been discharged from the hospital and sent to a rehabilitation facility. However, upon her arrival, she was not being bathed regularly and, once, when she notified staff she had not received dinner, was served a plate of half-eaten food. 

When the family had tried contacting the facility on their own, they were met with unanswered calls and full voicemail boxes.  In addition to their calls not getting through, the family couldn’t bring food themselves due to visitation restrictions in place to protect seniors from COVID-19. 

To help the family, the Oasis Senior Advisor attempted to reach the facility’s social worker and was also greeted by full voicemail boxes. Several attempts were made daily, trying to reach someone at the facility that could provide information on the patient, make decisions, share protocol, and assist with a potential transfer.  

A 2020 study from the WHO found that over 64% of nursing home staff members admitted to committing some form of abuse or neglect. Nursing home neglect is classified as a resident being left alone or unattended for long periods of time. This neglect can lead to serious health conditions including malnutrition, hunger, infection and other problems.

As the case progressed, the advisor learned that staff was shorthanded due to the pandemic.  While sensitive to this, the advisor’s main objective was to help the family.

While working with the patient’s current facility, the Oasis advisor found a local rehabilitation facility that was able to accept the patient.  The advisor coordinated the sending of clinicals, obtaining acceptance, and the transport arrangements. However, the facility continued to resist discharge.  Its Director of Social Work told the family to sign an Against Medical Advice (AMA) form before they would move her, despite the fact that when a patient is going from one medical facility to another, an AMA does not apply. It was in the best interest of the client to be transferred quickly, so the advisor continued to advocate on the client’s behalf and made arrangements to have the AMA reversed by the new facility. Eventually, the patient moved into the new center, and she fell in love with her new home– so much so that she decided to continue residence there after her rehabilitation was complete.

In some instances, like the experience above, the signs of elder abuse and neglect are evident.  However, many seniors are scared or intimidated into remaining silent. Close attention to the warning signs of elder abuse and neglect may provide early indication that something is wrong.  These signs include changes in personality and behavior, tension between a caregiver and resident, being unsuitably dressed, lack of bathing or personal care, weight loss or confusion. If you suspect that you or someone you love is a victim of elder neglect or abuse, contact the National Center of Elder Abuse today by calling 1-855-500-3537 or visiting www.ncea.acl.gov

For information on finding a safe, supportive environment for yourself or your loved one contact your local Oasis Senior Advisor today by calling (888) 455-5838.