Illinois has approximately 1,200 facilities designed for long-term care. Additional, thousands of residents live in assisted care facilities and receive in-home assisted care. Nursing home abuse is an issue that many families worry about throughout the year. However, summer is a particularly difficult time for seniors and incapacitated persons in long-term living facilities.
Families should be aware of the signs of dehydration and heat-related illnesses during the summer months so that they can watch for these signs of nursing home abuse in addition to the other signs of elder abuse they look for each time they visit with their loved one.
Heat-Related Nursing Home Abuse
The summer months can be very hot in Chicago. A building can become very warm, including nursing homes, personal residences, and assisted-living facilities. If staff members and caregivers are not extremely careful, patients can become dehydrated. They can also suffer heat-related illnesses.
Examples of negligence and abuse in nursing homes during the hot summer months:
- Placing residents outside for long periods.
- Permitting residents to develop sunburn (which can also occur indoors near windows).
- Allowing residents to go outside without sunscreen and adequate shade.
- Dressing residents in heavy clothing that is not suitable for the temperatures.
- Failing to provide extra water and other fluids during periods of high heat.
- Keeping temperatures in the residents’ rooms higher than necessary to reduce utility costs.
- Failing to monitor residents closely to ensure they are eating, drinking, and urinating.
- Failing to report problems with the air conditioning or ventilation immediately. Putting off repairs of air conditioning units or ventilation.
- Failure to provide adequate fans when necessary.
- No reporting signs or symptoms of dehydration or heat-related illnesses to the resident’s doctor immediately.
- Failing to call 911 or seek immediate medical attention when a patient exhibits signs of severe illness related to heat or the sun.
If the nursing home, assisted living facility, or any other party is negligent or careless, a patient or resident can suffer traumatic injuries and death because of heat-related illnesses and dehydration.
Signs of Dehydration or Heat-Related Illnesses in the Elderly
According to the CDC, elderly individuals are more susceptible to health-related health problems. Some of the reasons why older adults may be more prone to heat-related conditions include:
- They do not adjust as well to sudden temperature changes;
- They may have a chronic medical condition that impacts how their bodies react to heat; and,
- They may take prescriptions that can impact the body’s ability to control sweat or temperature.
In addition, elderly individuals may not be able to verbalize when they are feeling hot or ill because of incapacitation. Other elderly individuals are unable to move themselves to a cooler location, take a cool bath, or perform other measures that can help reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry skin
- Less-frequent urination
- Increased breathing and heart rate
- Dry mouth
Because many of the symptoms of dehydration may also be symptoms elderly individuals experience each day because of other conditions, it is crucial for caregivers to monitor fluid intake and urine output to ensure that the person remain hydrated.
The signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses vary depending on the type of illness. The CDC has a chart that lists what to look for and what to do for heat rash, sunburn, heat strokes, heat rash, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. Family members should review the signs of heat-related illnesses and look for these signs each time they visit their loved one.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois
If you suspect nursing home abuse, you can call 911 to report the abuse if the person is in imminent danger. You can also report abuse to the Illinois Department of Human Resources. Important telephone numbers on its website include:
- Report abuse of persons with mental illness or developmental disability – 1-800-368-1463
- Elder abuse (not in a nursing home) – 1-866-800-1409
- Abuse in hospitals or nursing homes – 1-800-252-4343
Other information about report nursing home or elder abuse can be found on the website.
Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Your loved one may have one or more claims against the person and facilities that allowed or committed the abuse or negligence. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys are available to answer your questions and explain your legal options.
Call the Costa Ivone personal injury lawyers at (708) 400-0000 for a free consultation or contact us online.
Costa Ivone, LLC – Personal Injury Lawyers
311 N Aberdeen St #100B, Chicago, IL 60607