Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Our aging population increasingly finds itself in nursing homes and for-profit facilities for long-term care. Families, no longer able to care for a loved one, presume that nursing homes and retirement centers are a safe and healthy long-term option. Unfortunately, elder abuse and exploitation is increasing at an alarming rate. In an effort to save money, many nursing homes hire poorly trained and unqualified staff to meet the day to day needs of its patients.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports some alarming statistics:
- Conservative estimates suggest between 1 and 2 million people over 65 years of age have been injured, exploited, or mistreated by someone they depended on for care
- It is also estimated that for every one reported case of elder abuse and neglect, at least five cases go unreported.
- In 2003, the Center investigated over 20,000 cases of abuse and gross neglect in nursing home settings and found that physical abuse was the most common type of abuse reported.
Also, a recent Brown University Study of nursing home patients found a higher percentage of nursing home abuse and neglect among minority patients. This is not to say that nursing home abuse is racially motivated. The results could stem from the economic reality that racial minorities are more likely to reside in nursing homes that are underfunded and poorly run.
Examples of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse, including verbal insults and threats, or forced isolation
- Sexual abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Failure to medicate and properly monitor
Signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Bed sores
What can you do to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect?
- Be aware that nursing home abuse and neglect occurs
- Keep in contact – if you have a loved on in a nursing or retirement home, ask them about their experiences and keep an open line of communication. A patient with a highly involved family is less likely to be abused or neglected.
- Report neglect and abuse to the appropriate State agencies. You can refer to the National Center for Elder Abuse website for information on the proper agencies to contact.
We all need to be aware of this problem. The elderly are vulnerable and may need someone to act on their behalf. If you believe that a loved one has suffered any form of nursing home abuse or neglect, take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation and call our office for a free consultation.