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Veterans in Nursing Homes

Many families of retired military members or veterans do not know all of the options available to them for senior care. Since May is National Military Appreciation Month, remember that your veteran deserves the best care. MedlinePlus.gov defines nursing homes as secure places for patients who don’t need to be hospitalized, but they can’t function at home, either. This applies to civilians or ex-military.

Nursing homes employ a vast range of medical specialists focused on everything from speech rehabilitation to occupational therapy. But the foundation on which these facilities rests on a mix of nursing aides, RNs, LPNs and orderlies. They work day to day for the care and well-being of patients.

[Read more…]

Dementia Treatments in Nursing Facilities

Many families delay moving a loved one into nursing care until their loved one requires more care. Dementia is a progressive brain disease and with time, the patients become able to remember and do less and less. Symptoms include:
  • memory loss,
  • becoming bedridden and/or wheelchair ridden and
  • loss of motor abilities.

As a result, not all families are able to care for their loved ones when they get to this state. When they can’t, they often decide to move their loved one into a maximum care nursing home.

[Read more…]

Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Nursing Home Fall?

nursing home fall

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 36% of hospital emergency room visits for long-term care residents are due to falls. The average assisted living facility accounts for 100 to 200 falls each year. Unfortunately, a nursing home fall can cause serious problems effecting the quality of life, disability, and reduced independence. Of course, as our population ages, the CDC estimates by 2030, nearly 3 million people will live in assisted living facilities.

About 20% of these falls can be prevented by improving controllable environmental factors. These factors include poor lighting, wet floors, and incorrect bed height. According to the CDC, only about 5% of seniors live in assisted living facilities, but they account for up to 20% of the deaths due to falls. But many times, the last nursing home fall was not the first fall. The CDC estimates that each elder citizen falls 2.6 times. In the end, about 1,800 senior citizen die each year from a fall.

[Read more…]

Steps to Assessing Senior Home Safety

Steps to Assessing Senior Home SafetySenior Home Safety Tips


Assessing senior home safety is necessary to identify and eliminate safety risks. Seniors face a variety of safety risks in the home including falls, fires, security breaches, and unattended medical emergencies. If your loved one wants to age in peace independently, follow these tips to assess the safety of his or her home.


Prevention First


Senior home safety starts with prevention. Taking steps like installing safety grips and other bath aids in the bathroom and sturdy staircase rails can reduce the risk of falls in the home. Also, equip your loved one’s home with emergency preparedness supplies. Place a fire extinguisher and smoke detector in every room. Put important emergency contact information on the fridge, and sign up for a medical alert system if your loved one lives alone.


Everyday Living


Small changes to living areas can significantly increase senior home safety. Help your loved one be self-sufficient by organizing their home so that important everyday items are easily within reach. Store heavier items at waist level. Clearly mark things like hot water faucets and stove on and off switches. Make sure their home has sufficient lighting in the kitchen and bathroom to make cleaning and cooking easier.


Help With Healthy Living


Your loved one might also need help keeping track of medications, treatments and therapies, and important healthcare appointments. Clearly label and portion out medications. Create a simple calendar system to help them remember doctor’s visits. Schedule grocery deliveries, so your loved one always has fresh food at home. Small steps like these can make a significant difference in his or her ability to practice self-care.


Consider Home Adaptations


If your senior has a disability or a mobility problem, it might be time to consider in-home adaptations that are senior friendly. These can increase their overall safety in everyday situations and emergencies. Ramps leading to all entrances are relatively easy to install and can reduce the risk of falls. If your senior is wheelchair bound, consider widening doorways to make navigating the home easier. Adding stair lifts is essential for seniors in wheelchairs living in two-story homes. Another important consideration is the countertop height. Most homes are built with countertops too high for those in wheelchairs. Lowering countertops can help your senior take care of him or herself better.


Safety in Numbers


Senior home safety doesn’t stop at prevention. Make sure you or someone you trust regularly checks in on your loved one. Frequent visits are especially helpful if your loved one is reluctant to ask for help with simple, everyday tasks like cleaning and cooking.


Investing your time and resources in helping your senior live an independent life can be a rewarding challenge. But if your loved one is injured in an accident or a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance. A skilled Arlington Heights personal injury attorney with experience handling Illinois nursing home abuse claims can help you identify any liable parties and take steps to seek the compensation your loved one deserves.


If you or a loved one has been injured and need help with an insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.




What Is Medical Neglect in Nursing Homes?

What Is Medical Neglect in Nursing Homes?We put our trust in nursing homes to care for and watch after our loved ones when they need specialized medical care. Unfortunately, nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of trained professionals every day.


Many types of neglect can occur in a nursing home. Perhaps the most serious of which is medical neglect, which can occur when a staff member fails to provide necessary care or when the care rendered is sub-standard. Medical neglect can result in such conditions as bed sores, injuries from restraints, malnutrition, and dehydration. If you entrust the care of your loved one in the hands of professional nursing home staff, medical neglect is not acceptable. If your loved one has been neglected, however, you might have grounds for a nursing home neglect claim.


Nursing homes in Illinois are licensed, regulated, and inspected by both state and federal agencies, including the Illinois Department of Public Health, which works to ensure the safety of Illinois’ 100,000 nursing home residents. Responding to over 5,000 complaints a year, the Department of Public Health has its hands full holding nursing homes to mandatory state standards of care.


The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act protects nursing home residents from any breach of duty to care that might compromise a resident’s health, safety, happiness, and well-being. Sadly, despite stringent standards and robust protections, the elderly can suffer abuse and neglect even when under supervised, professional care. Due to the vulnerability and helplessness of many nursing home residents, the effects of neglect can be fatal.


Because of these risks, you should thoroughly review a nursing home before choosing one for your loved one. Visit the home, and research its history of violations. You can also take steps to ensure the treatment your loved one receives is appropriate and of high quality. As a family member of a loved one in a long-term care nursing home, you have a right to install an electronic monitoring device (i.e. a closed-circuit television camera), so you can keep tabs on the standard of care your loved one receives.


If you suspect medical neglect, you or your loved should submit a complaint to the Department of Public Health. You should also consult with an experienced Arlington Heights nursing home abuse attorney who has handled nursing home neglect cases. If your loved one is competent and of sound mind, he or she can file a claim against the nursing home. If not, a family member, close friend, or someone with a power of attorney may file the claim.


An attorney can investigate the facts and circumstances of the neglect and advise you on your loved one’s rights regarding legal claims. Nursing homes should be held accountable for medical neglect, and an attorney can help you do just that. You will also want to work with an attorney if you want to file a personal injury claim against the nursing home so your loved one can recover losses associated with the neglect.



If you or a loved one were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home

elder abuse

When a family member begins to need a nursing home, most families have a hard decision ahead of them. While we all hope to take care of these loved ones when the day comes, more likely than not, you cannot. The reality of caring for an elderly person includes many hardships that require professional, medical attention provided by trained doctors, nurses, and other staff members. Nursing homes facilities that provide this around the clock medical attention on a permanent basis for individuals needing constant care become necessary.

For many, nursing homes are the answer. However, with stories of elder abuse, malpractice, and other unfortunate happenings, some families hesitate to admit members into nursing home facilities. The AARP says that families should stay cautious when selecting which nursing home to place their loved one in. Advocate for your loved one by asking facilities and yourself the right questions.

The AARP interviewed a panel of experts in nursing home care as well as former nursing home workers. They asked what families should consider when selecting a nursing home. According to the panel, here are some questions. [Read more…]

Jacuzzi or Injury – How Medicare Handles “Dangerous” Nursing Homes


Imagine sitting in a large, luxurious arm chair next to a babbling waterfall fixed in Zen garden. As you look to your right, you can see a long hallway filled with rooms that lead to a relaxing Jacuzzi. To your left, another long hall lined with rooms leads to a lounge cluttered with every amenity you could think of (coffee, cookies, HBO access, the works).  The reception desk welcomes you to this inviting location.

While this scene appears to be one like a five-star hotel on Michigan Avenue, instead, a new trend among some nursing homes and other rehabilitation centers tries to lure new patients in order to gain Medicare benefits. However, although the amenities of the facilities seem top of the line and successfully entice patients, some nursing homes fail to provide the type of care comparable to their amenities.

Warning Signs

Although millions of Americans live at wonderful nursing home facilities with experienced and wonderful staff, some nursing homes give the rest a bad name. Several facilities hire unskilled nurses and workers and lack a sufficient number of doctors. Additionally, understaffing affects the rehabilitiation and medical care needs of the residents.

According to a study conducted in 2014 by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, 22% of Medicare patients staying in a nursing home for a duration of 35 days or less experienced injury or harm from the medical care received. Additionally, 11% of Medicare patients endured some sort of temporary injury. The study stated that Medicare spent an estimated $2.8 billion on hospital visits and treatment for the injured Medicare recipients.

Hour to Hour Care

Most people typically picture a nursing home filled with older people needing hour to hour care. However, nursing home and rehabilitation centers alike welcome short term stays for anyone utilizing Medicare insurance. In fact, these centers are pushing to enroll more Medicare patients as opposed to Medicaid patients. Currently,  Medicare pays facilities 84% more for short term patients than Medicaid pays for long term residents.

With large percentage difference in payment, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers eagerly welcome Medicare recipients. But what is the difference between a Medicare recipient and a Medicaid recipient?

Medicare v. Medicaid in Nursing Homes

According to the Medicare.gov website, “Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older.” Additionally, younger people with disabilities or for people with End-Stage Renal Disease can use Medicare

There are three kinds of Medicare plans:

  1. Hospital Insurance (Part A)
  2. Medical Insurance (Part B), and
  3. Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C).

In contrast, “Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources.”

While these two benefit services are separate, it is important to note that a person can have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. In terms of determining who pays first, Medicare.gov states that “Medicaid never pays first for services covered by Medicare.” Instead, Medicaid pays after Medicare and all other insurance coverage providers have paid.

Special Focus Status

Due to a growing number of Medicare recipients needing rehabilitation center and nursing home care, Medicare as begun to impose higher scrutiny on the facilities. Medicare officials note the number of Medicare recipients at a facility who have needed hospital care based on an injury. The federal government then places the facility on “special focus status.” This status is the highest and strictest forms of monitoring that is reserved for the poorest performing facilities in the nation. “Special focus status” facilities are required to either fix gaps in patient care while the government provides increased inspections or be threatened with losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. Facilities can also be punished with monetary fines.

Medicare Rights for Residents of Nursing Homes

The Medicare.gov website states that residents of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers have rights and protections under both state and federal law. Some of these rights and protections include:

  • Freedom from discrimination
  • Right of respect and dignity
  • Right to be informed on services and fees
  • Freedom from restraints
  • Right to manage money
  • Right to privacy, property, and living arrangements
  • Freedom from abuse and neglect
  • Right to proper medical care
  • Right to receive visitors
  • Protection against unfair transfer or discharge
  • Right to social services
  • Right to complain
  • The Right to see family and friends

Facilities must honor these rights granted to patients, and facilities that violate those rights that involve the proper care of patients are put on “special focus status.”

If you know someone who has had any of these rights violated by their nursing home, please contact the experienced nursing home lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

How Does the Government Define a Dangerous Nursing Home?

The government puts a nursing homeon “special focus status” when

  • Giving a patient incorrect medication
  • Failing to protect patients from violent or bullying residents or staff members
  • Neglecting to tell the patient’s family or physician about injuries
  • Failing to provide adequate care by having a sufficient number of registered nurses and qualified doctors
  • Failing to conform to federal government regulations given to facilities to ensure safety of patients

Facilities can end their high watch status by fixing the issues stated by the federal government. However, of the 528 nursing homes in 2014 that lost their “special focus status,” 52% have relapsed into providing dangerous care, harming patients, or placing patients in serious jeopardy.

These relapsing violators are usually not placed back under “special focus status” and watch. Instead, the government imposes fines.However, facilities can continue to operate with unpaid fines and multiple penalties.

How to Research a Nursing Home

As a consumer, you can choose where you. Don’t just look at the Jacuzzis and Zen gardens. Ask about their hiring practices

And go to https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html to compare nursing home rankings and reviews and to make the best choice for you.

Elder Abuse – How to Spot It

elder abuse

One of TV’s most successful dramas follows attorney Jimmy McGill in his small-time law practice. In the course of the first season of AMC’s Better Call Saul, McGill uncovers a nursing home money scam and opens an elder abuse case. While this story line makes for great television, in reality, real senior citizens do not receive the respect and care they deserve. In the state of Illinois, reports show that 76,000 elders are victims of elder abuse. But what exactly is elder abuse?

What is elder abuse?

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as any form of abuse or neglect that causes harm or loss to an elderly person. The abuse could come at the hands of family members, caregivers, or nursing home workers.

Seniors can suffer

  • loss of independence,
  • their homes,
  • financial earnings and savings,
  • through their health,
  • loss of dignity, and
  • loss of security.

Unfortunately, elders who have experienced abuse have a shorter life expectancy than elders who have not experienced abuse.

If you have noticed any neglect of a senior citizen that includes any of these effects, call the experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. Contact us to help evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

What forms of elder abuse are there?

There are six major forms of neglect:

  • physical abuse,
  • sexual abuse,
  • domestic violence,
  • psychological abuse,
  • financial abuse,
  • neglect, or
  • health care fraud or abuse.

Although each of these forms of neglecy have specific legal definitions, below are some details of each type of abuse. If any of these definitions apply to a loved one or to you, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation about the neglect or other nursing home injuries.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical abuse includes more than just hitting, pushing, or shoving an elder. Other types of abuse include improperly using drugs, restraining the elderly person, or confining the person.

An elder can suffer emotional abuse, either verbally or nonverbally. Examples of verbal abuse include the use of intimidation via yelling, humiliation, or frequent blaming or scapegoating. Nonverbal emotional abuse can occur when people ignore the elderly person, separate them from friends or regular activities, or terrorize the individual.

Elder sexual abuse occurs when a person makes any sexual contact with an elderly person without consent. Showing sexual explicit materials to elderly persons also constitutes sexual abuse.

Domestic violence occurs between the elder and an intimate partner.

Financial abuse occurs whenever a person inappropriately uses an elderly person’s funds, property, or other assets. These inappropriate uses can take the form of large withdrawals from bank accounts, changes in the elderly person’s financial stability, wills, power of attorney, titles, or policy changes that seem strange or unlikely, unpaid bills, or unreasonable and unnecessary subscriptions to services or goods.

While the first five are self-explanatory, neglect can occur when a caregiver fails to provide necessary and proper care or in the form of self-neglect, the failure to provide for one’s own essential needs.

Healthcare fraud occurs when an elderly person is put into the care of an institution. This institution acts as the elderly person’s caregiver and many times is responsible for paying the person’s bills and other basic and necessary tasks. Healthcare abuse can occur in the forms of duplicate billing for medical services, overmedicated or undermedicated, and subpar care for the elderly person. Many times healthcare providers provide inadequate care due to lack of trained workers, overcrowding of facilities, or poor follow-up and responses to questions regarding care.

What are the signs of elder abuse?

Many times, signs of elder abuse can seem like symptoms of dementia, or caregivers may state that an elder’s actions are due to dementia. While many signs of elder abuse reflect signs of dementia, the following signs of abuse should not be dismissed:

  • Regular period of tension or arguments between the elderly person and his or her caregiver
  • Changes in the personality of the elderly person
  • Changes in the behavior of the elderly person

While these signs do not always stem from cases of elder abuse, it is important to check on an elderly person when these signs are present. If you have seen any of these signs in regards to a relative or loved one, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. for a free consultation today. Experienced attorneys can help you identify the signs of elder abuse when you need information.

How do you report elder abuse?

Many people do not know who to turn to when they see their loved ones suffering abuse. First, you can contact the experienced senior citizen care and nursing home abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. Our consultations are free and confidential. Additionally, you are under no obligation to choose our law firm.

If you want other information, the state of Ilinois has several agencies to fight against elder abuse. These three agencies are

  1. the Adult Protective Services,
  2. Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, and
  3. Legal Services Development Program.

First, according to the Illinois Department on Aging, Adult Protective Services acknowledges the right for elderly people “to live in dignity and safety, free from mistreatment of any kind.” Illinois’s Adult Protect Services responds to reports of elder abuse. The program helps to represent and protect persons 60 years or older that live in a specific community.

Additionally, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program aims to promote the rights of elderly person and to protect those rights in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.t

Lastly, the Legal Services Development Program provides legal services and advice for elders.

However, there are many different ways to report elder abuse depending upon what kind of elder abuse is occurring. For example, to file a claim regarding discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights via phone or letter to either their Chicago or Springfield office. However, remember to follow the specific filing deadlines found online at https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/Pages/default.aspx.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. can assist you with any of these needs.

Senior Helpline

The Adult Protective Services Program maintains a Senior Helpline that provides assistance to elders. According to the Senior Helpline website, the program follows a HELP mantra, an acronym that states the program’s mission to (1) Help elders local necessary services in their community, (2) Evaluate elders needs as well as answer questions, (3) Link elders to coordination services within their areas, and (4) Provide information.  The Helpline is not only for elders but for their caregivers as well. The organization works in coalition with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, legal services, transportation, employment, and nutrition services.

The Senior Helpline is available Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm Central Standard Time by dialing 1-800-252-8966 or emailing at [email protected]. For 24-hour assistant, dial 1-866-800-1409 for the Adult Protective Services Hotline.

About the Firm

Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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