Neglect and abuse of the elderly happens every day and can be physical, emotional, or simple negligence. Whatever form it may take, Nursing Home Abuse must be stopped. The first step is recognizing what constitutes abuse or neglect of the elderly. While neglect of the elderly does not seem as severe as abuse, it occurs more often. Neglect qualifies as the failure of a senior's caretaker to execute the degree of care expected from a person in their position. Victims of nursing home neglect can experience bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, medication errors, weight loss, poor personal hygiene and falls. Evidence of elderly abuse is often displayed through rocking, sucking or biting, as well as unexplained open wounds, broken bones, cuts, bruises, burns and over-sedation.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect or have witnessed nursing home abuse or neglect, consult a nursing home abuse attorney immediately. Types of nursing home abuse can include general neglect, as well as physical, sexual, financial and psychological abuse. Serious examples of abuse in nursing homes may include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Isolation from friends and family
- Hitting, pushing or shoving
- Improperly restraining
- Mental or emotional abuse, including verbal threats, babying and silent treatment
- Tricking a resident into signing a will, contract or other legal document
Statistics compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse show that between 1986 and 1994, the number of elder abuse incidents roughly doubled from 120,000 to 240,000. Another study reported that 30% of 5,283 nursing homes were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse between 1999 and 2000. As more elderly people enter nursing homes, the instances of nursing home abuse cases also increase. By 2030, one in five Americans will be a senior citizen, many of them residing in assisted living facilities. This increase will likely result in an increased workload for nursing home staff members, increased stress, and a rise in nursing home personnel who have not received proper training. Consequently, the number of cases of abuse and neglect of the elderly will likely continue to rise.
Nursing Home Risk Factors
Determining a care giving facility's risk factors can help determine whether nursing home abuse may become an issue. A high number of risk factors increase the likelihood of resident abuse in nursing homes. Employees that are most likely to harm elderly adults may be experiencing drug or alcohol addiction, poor mental health, financial problems or isolation from society. Facility risks include overcrowding of residents, undertrained personnel, inadequate or excessively absent staff and a lack of communication. Nursing home residents can also make themselves vulnerable to becoming abuse victims by being verbally abusive, overly aggressive or manipulative.
Staffing shortages at assisted living homes can be seen as a major contributor to nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence. Approximately 54% of nursing homes do not meet the minimum staffing level for nurse's aides who bathe and feed the residents. In addition, 31% of assisted living homes lack the appropriate number of registered nurses and 24% of nursing homes fall below the minimum suggested requirement for total staff. Our quick guide to choosing a nursing home as well as our nursing home checklist can help you avoid these problems when selecting a nursing home for a loved one.