July 19, 2021 | Nursing Home Abuse
Across the country, it’s hot! From Canada down through the Northwest, temperatures are soaring, and records are being broken. California, Texas, and the South, while a little more used to the heat, are also struggling to keep cool as the hot summer sun beats down on much of the country. Many Kentucky cities, including Lexington, are warning residents about the heat. They are also offering tips to help people stay cool. However, what happens to the people who rely on others to keep them safe and cool?
Elderly individuals are particularly susceptible to the effects of high temperatures. As we get older, our bodies become much less efficient at regulating temperature. Those over the age of 65 don’t sweat as much as younger individuals, and sweating is the body’s natural air-conditioner. The elderly population is at higher risk of developing several heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration, heatstroke, and cardiovascular issues, just to name a few. Even certain medications routinely prescribed to elderly individuals can impact the body’s ability to regulate temperature, thus putting those people at even more elevated risk for heat-related conditions. Both medical studies and studies on climate change have found that heatwaves and increased temperatures can have a significant impact on the mortality rates of the elderly.
This brings us to the matter at hand. With temperatures on the rise this summer, are nursing homes doing enough to protect vulnerable residents from the impact of the heat? News reports from some areas of the country seem to suggest the answer is not always “yes.” A nursing home in Oswego, New York, and another in Massachusetts are just two of the nursing homes under fire for allowing residents to sit in sweltering conditions. A broken air conditioning unit in one home resulted in internal building temperatures rising to almost 85 degrees. Another A/C unit that couldn’t keep up with the high temperatures left some nursing home residents uncomfortable in the high heat. There have been cases in the past where nursing home residents have died due to heat-related illnesses.
Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to keep residents safe and comfortable, no matter what the weather. They are also charged with ensuring that elderly residents are kept hydrated and are properly monitored for signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Anything less may be cause for concern and point towards a neglectful or abusive situation.
As the temperatures in Kentucky continue to rise, keep in close contact with your family members living in nursing home facilities. Be sure to ask if they are being kept comfortable, if the air conditioning is working, and if they are being given adequate food and water. As one news story points out, broken air is sometimes only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. The facility in this story that was having issues keeping residents cool has also been cited in the past for having a local registered sex offender sexually abusing an elderly resident, waiting too long to send two dementia patients to the emergency room for treatment, and having their employees being caught mocking and abusing a resident with dementia.
Do you have a family member complaining about the temperature inside their nursing home? Has a loved one been diagnosed with a heat-related illness? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you suspect some other form of abuse or neglect is taking place at a Kentucky nursing home, contact the Lexington legal team at Minner Vines Moncus Injury Lawyers for help. We can take a deep dive into your suspicions, investigate your claims, and hold negligent nursing homes responsible for their actions.