It seems as if the majority of the U.S. has been sweltering in record-breaking heat the last couple weeks, and Kentucky residents are no exception. Louisville, Kentucky has had nine days with temperatures over 100 degrees and we are not even to the middle of July yet. It is important for everyone to be careful in this heat. Try not to stay out in the heat for extended periods of time; head for shade as much as possible if you have to be out; drink plenty of fluids; never leave anyone, people or dogs, in cars without the air conditioning running.
This information has been in the newspaper for the last several days. Something else that has been in the paper under this subject is the reminder to check on elderly relatives. While the articles were most likely talking about seniors who live on their own, it is also important to check on those who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
In South Carolina, a nursing home resident died on June 30, 2012. The investigators believe her death was heat related and are awaiting the autopsy report. Family members of the victim said they visited her earlier in the day and the nursing home was hot. They did not see any air-conditioners in any of the rooms. The family went back to the nursing home the day after her death and there were air-conditioners in every room. The county coroner said it appeared that one of the air-conditioning units was not working on the day she died. The nursing home director said it was working but it just could not keep up with the heat. If the autopsy confirms her death was heat related, the family may be able to file a wrongful death suit against the nursing home because it was negligent in taking care of the resident.
In another heat-related nursing home story from the other side of the nation in California, a man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an assisted living facility that allegedly left his mother alone on a patio in 100-degree weather in 2011. The man claims he found his mother sitting on an unshaded patio at the facility and that she was very warm and uncomfortable. He scheduled an appointment to meet with the director the next week to discuss the situation. When he arrived for the meeting the following week, he again found his mother sitting outside, but this time she was unresponsive and died at the hospital. His lawsuit filed in June 2012 claims the assisted living facility was guilty of negligence and elder abuse, among other charges. The sheriff department that investigated thought the facility was negligent, but charges couldn't be filed because there wasn't enough evidence.
In both of these cases, elderly people were entrusted to facilities meant to care for them because they were unable to care for themselves. Unfortunately, it appears that neither of the residents were tended to as diligently as they should have been. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, please check on them throughout the year to make sure they are receiving the care they deserve. If something seems wrong and you suspect negligence or abuse, contact a Kentucky nursing home abuse attorney immediately.
Autopsy: Nursing Home Death Likely Heat Related; WSPA; July 2, 2012
Man says mom, 89, died after being left outside assisted-living home; L.A. Times; June 20, 2012