The Dumping of the Elderly

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There are a multitude of problems that elderly people are faced with, especially if they are poor or have limited mental capacity. Hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes and even assisted living communities are dealing with numerous problems that involve older patients with limited funds. The rising cost of living can find many older people without options and hospitals and other facilities also have to stretch their dollars to remain afloat. Where does this leave you or someone you love if they have any of these problems? Do you know your lawful rights?

Last week the Sacramento Bee ran a story about an elderly man who was released from the hospital and given a taxi ride to the streets of downtown Sacramento. He had been in the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and since he had just lost his home due to the skyrocketing rent prices in the area, found himself homeless for the first time in his life. His social security was no longer enough to afford a place to live. How many older people are dealing with these kinds of problems? More than we can imagine!

The article written by Cynthia Hubert said the practice of “dumping” is happening more and more. Sometimes these older people are dropped off in just a hospital gown. The manager of the homeless park where Mr. Lewis was dropped said once a medical transport brought an elderly woman who was missing a leg. The hospital had released her without a wheelchair or a prosthetic in her hospital gown. The manager told the driver to take her back to the hospital.

Could Your Older Loved One Be at Risk for Being Dumped?

“Unfortunately this happens all of the time,” said the manager in Hubert’s article.

Sacramento is not the only place where the community is oversaturated with the poor elderly population. Hospitals are overwhelmed with decisions about where to place patients who are without means and without family to help out. These health care facilities are also bound by law to have a care plan but if the patient insists on walking, they have no choice but to allow them to make their own decisions even if it’s to their detriment.

In Maryland, a nursing home chain was charged with dumping elderly patients so they could free up beds for higher paying people. In November of last year, an elderly woman in Fresno sued a nursing home for leaving her on the sidewalk outside of a relative’s home with an open wound. Her relative refused to let her in. Even rehab facilities are kicking people out when their medical insurance will no longer pay.

Unfairly Discharged

According to an article in the Bonner County Daily Bee, the number one complaint against all nursing homes is being unfairly discharged.

Nationally, discharge and eviction complaints have remained more or less steady in recent years after rising significantly between 2000 and 2007, according to data collected by the federal government. Still, these complaints remain the top grievance reported to nursing home ombudsmen, as the number of overall complaints about everything from abuse to access to information has dropped in the past decade, according to the Daily Bee article.

Having a family that cares is perhaps the only safeguard against any of these scenarios. Keeping a close watch on your older loved one so you know what is happening in their lives can often make all the difference in how they are treated by professionals in hospitals and care facilities.

Know the contact information for your state’s ombudsman. Know your rights when you use any care facility.

You have guaranteed rights and protections as a person with Medicare. In addition, your rights as a nursing home resident include the right to:

  • Be free from discrimination
  • Be free from abuse and neglect
  • Exercise your rights as a U.S. citizen
  • Have your representative notified
  • Get proper medical care
  • Be treated with respect
  • Be free from restraints
  • Have protections against involuntary transfer or discharge
  • Participate in activities
  • Spend time with visitors
  • Form or participate in resident groups
  • Manage your money
  • Get information on services and fees
  • Get proper privacy, property, and living arrangements
  • Make complaints

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