It is no secret that Nevada’s state government is staring down a massive budget shortfall and that with a weak economy and a governor who has pledged not to raise taxes, breaking even will mean many painful cuts to social services. While conservative state legislators call the state’s administrative bureaucracy bloated and inefficient, more progressive representatives insist that service cuts will do additional harm to the state’s most vulnerable residents. As the Nevada legislature convenes and this battle kicks into gear, many observers are worried that cuts could expose Nevada seniors to elder abuse and other problems.
In addition to well-known agencies such as the Nevada Department of Public Safety and the Nevada Department of Education, the Nevada Aging and Disability Division provides important services to elderly Nevadans. Part of the state health and human services department, this program helps aging residents and their families to find appropriate long-term and end-of-life care by providing counseling and other resources. One of the many valuable services this provides to our state is that it helps protect Nevada seniors from nursing home abuse that might occur if such a decision is made hastily or without proper planning.
Obviously, providing these services costs money, and Governor Brian Sandoval has called for major budget cuts to education and other social services that could limit or suspend these programs. We cannot yet know how Nevada legislators will handle the difficult decisions before them as they attempt to limit the suffering imposed by the governor’s budget proposal, but some of them have experience to draw upon. Freshman Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson has experience as a hospice-care worker, and she and other members of the Legislature will rely on constituent input, staff analyses, and their own knowledge to weigh difficult competing priorities.
The hope is that — whatever solution is ultimately pursued — it will maintain sufficient funds to support the programs that help keep our seniors safe. Recent stories from across the country remind us of the persistent threat of Nevada nursing home neglect: a forgotten patient lost her leg to an ignored vein blockage, and another woman was found locked in a walk-in refrigerator. And with financial pressures pushing from all sides, there is increased risk of elder assault as nursing-home patients are co-housed with other recipients of mental-health services.
Nursing home abuse stories are frequently horrific and are sadly common. If you know or suspect that your loved one has been mistreated at a Nevada nursing home, contact us today for a free consultation.
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