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For many Californians the time comes when their loved elderly parent or family member may need some help within their home. Whether they need help with meal preparation, personal health and hygiene, or just some help around the home and with errands, finding the right person to care for your elder can be stressful.

Types of in-home caregivers for elders may range from a weekly housekeeper to a certified nursing assistant, or skilled care worker. The range of services provided may be cleaning the home, dispensing medication, helping the elder with transportation, or home care workers may help with personal care such as bathing, and monitoring overall health.

Once you determine the type of care your loved elder needs, there are many places to find compassionate, qualified in-home caregivers. Consider beginning your search by asking for referrals from friends and family, or from a doctor specializing in senior care. You can also check job postings such as those found in the newspaper, or online on sites including www.Caring.com.

When interviewing a potential caregiver for your loved one, be sure to:

*Photocopy a Valid California Driver’s License
*Obtain Proof of Certifications
*Check References
*Run A Background Check
*Spend Time Getting to Know Them

After you’ve hired an in-home caregiver, make sure to stay in contact with your loved elder. In addition, be sure to schedule consultations with the caregiver at least once per week to remain current on your loved one’s wellbeing. Wherever possible make unannounced visits while their caregiver is there to make sure that the relationship between the two is one of mutual respect and care.

The decision to hire an in-home caregiver for your loved elder is a big decision and warrants time and careful screening of candidates to ensure you’ve selected the best person for the job.
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According to WebMD, “Clinical depression in the elderly is common. That doesn’t mean it’s normal. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression.”

Depression in elders can be particularly troubling, as it tends to increase the likelihood of prolonged illnesses, and/or the onset of disease. WebMD states: “Depression in the elderly often increases their risk of cardiac diseases. Depression doubles an elderly person’s risk of cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness. At the same time, depression reduces an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate. Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Depression also has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack. For that reason, making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is important, even if the depression is mild.”

Signs and symptoms of depression in elders may include:

Memory problems
Confusion
Withdrawing from friends, family
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Complaints of pain
Insomnia
Irritability
Delusions
Hallucinations
Ongoing sadness
Excessive worrying
Pacing/Fidgeting
Frequent crying

Depression is a serious mental condition and must be treated. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, untreated depression in elders may lead to a worsening of symptoms of other illnesses, premature death, disability, or even result in suicide.
If you believe an elder you love is showing signs of depression, speak with their physician.

You may also find helpful information here:
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation: www.GMHFonline.org
National Mental Health Association: www.NMHA.org
American Geriatrics Society: www.americangeriatrics.org
National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov Continue reading

If you believe that an elder has been the victim of any form of elder abuse, including neglect, while in the care of a California nursing home, your first responsibility is to report your suspicions. It is also advisable that you also speak with an experienced California nursing home abuse attorney. At Walton Law, APC, we offer free consultations, where we will discuss your claim with you, answer all of your questions, and prepare preliminary action to take, to determine whether or not filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.

If we decide to pursue a claim on your behalf, rest assured, there is no out of pocket expense to you. We work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that Walton Law, APC defers fees and payments until we have successfully resolved your case. This contingency basis enables those who would otherwise shy away from pursuing a valid claim (for fear that it will be too expensive to receive justice). There is simply no out of pocket expense, no monthly fee, nor hidden charges to Walton Law, APC clients until we have reached a resolution for you.

Contingency fees and costs are based on a percentage of the verdict or settlement received when all is said and done. That means that if we do not win your case, we do not collect money from you. At Walton Law, APC, we are honored to provide our services to you on a contingency fee, so that you are not priced out of the legal system.

Elder abuse typically refers to the knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a custodial care provider, caregiver, or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. In California, anyone aged 65 and older is protected by the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The laws are designed to help prevent neglect and abuse to California seniors. It is unfortunate that these laws alone are not always enough to protect our elders while they are in a long term care facility such as a California nursing home.

Elder abuse in California can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and a form of abuse known as chemical restraint (over-drugging). These forms of abuse may result in pain, suffering, and even death of elders. That’s why it is so important to talk with a nursing home abuse attorney if you believe that an elder is being abused or neglected while in a California nursing home.

Nursing home abuse cases in California may be very complex. However, this should not deter you from speaking with a California elder abuse attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse cases. All consultations at Walton Law, APC are free of charge. During that time, we will sit down with you and discuss your concerns, your suspicions, and your fears in regards to filing a lawsuit against a California nursing home. We will answer any and all of your questions in regards to nursing home abuse in California.

Walton Law APC is pleased to announce that Christopher C. Walton, founder and principal of the firm has been selected to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list. This is an exclusive list recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in the state.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a research driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and all firm sizes, assuring a credible and relevant annual list.

The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes:

Falls in nursing homes are all too common, and consequently all too fatal. In fact according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, “Falls among nursing home residents occur frequently and repeatedly. About 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries and those who survive falls frequently sustain hip fractures and head injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life.”

In order to prevent falls, it’s beneficial for elders in long term nursing care facilities to understand the causes. Here is a list of the four most common causes of falls.

• Nearly ¼ of all falls in nursing homes are caused by muscle weakness, or walking difficulties. If you or someone you love is having difficulty walking, use an assistive device, and make sure to request proper assistance from the skilled nursing staff of your long term care facility.

A recent nationwide study from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has found that many agencies who place caregivers in the homes of elderly people do not conduct national criminal background checks or drug testing. Moreover, these agencies do not require any experience or provide any real training or supervision for these caregivers.
For the study, researchers posed as consumers and surveyed 180 agencies across the country about their hiring methods, screening measures, training practices, skill competencies assessments, and supervision. Researchers found:

• Only 55% of the agencies interviewed said they performed a federal background check.
• Only 33% of agencies interviewed said they conducted drug testing.
• Only 33% of agencies interviewed said they tested for caregiver skill competency, mostly through “client feedback” or “self-reports” where the caregivers describe their own skills.
• Only 30% of the agencies interviewed said they sent supervisors on home visits to check on caregivers frequently initially and then at least once a month.
• Some of the agencies interviewed recruited random strangers off Craigslist and placed them in the homes of elderly people

Lee Lindquist, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, finds these statistics alarming. Lindquist was lead study author for the study and claims that “some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it’s scary and really puts the senior at risk.”

“People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency,” Lindquist said. Because most of these agencies do not perform federal, nationwide background checks, an applicant caregiver could have been convicted of a serious crime in one state and the out-of-state agency would never know about it. Also, considering that many seniors often take prescribed pain medication, there is a high risk of hiring a caregiver with a history of illicit drug use who may use or steal the patients’ medication. These are just some of the concerns Lindquist expresses in the news article published in the July 13, 2012 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.

Lindquist advises people hiring a paid caregiver through an agency to ask the agency the following ten questions:

1. How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements?
2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them? Criminal background check – federal or state? Drug testing? Other?
3. Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training?
4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?
5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills such as bathing, dressing, toileting, training in behavioral management, and cognitive support.)
6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
7. What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided?
9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?
10. Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of the older adult?
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