North Carolina residents may not be surprised to learn that many victims of nursing home abuse suffer from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia. These conditions are progressive in nature, and sufferers may have difficulty thinking clearly or remembering recent events. Dementia patients are also prone to act unpredictably, and they may respond poorly when attempts are made to calm them.
The problem is particularly acute for nursing homes because the symptoms of dementia may become more pronounced when patients are medicated or placed in new surroundings. The irritability and confusion of dementia sufferers is sometimes heightened by environmental changes, and simple requests to change clothes or bathe are often misunderstood and perceived as threats. Nursing home medical and administrative staff should be aware of these risks when a patient suffering from dementia is admitted, and they have a duty to provide care accordingly.
When an Alzheimer's patient is admitted to a nursing home, an individualized treatment plan should be developed. This treatment plan should take the patient's symptoms and possible reaction to new surroundings into account, and it should be routinely evaluated and updated if necessary. When these standards are not met, dementia patients may suffer preventable pressure ulcers or serious injuries.
While some cases of nursing home negligence involving dementia sufferers are the result of treatment plans that are ill-formed or not followed properly, many others are caused by inadequate staffing levels or insufficient training. Dementia patients are often cantankerous and difficult to deal with, but this should not be an issue for trained medical professionals. The families of those who have been harmed by nursing home negligence may wish to speak with an attorney to determine whether any legal remedies are available.