Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Facts

Picture of elder lawThere are more than 3.2 million adults currently living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the United States. Up to 40 percent of all adults are going to require the care of a nursing home at some point in their lives, and as the population of the U.S. continues to age, the number of residents in nursing homes is also going to go up. While many people in nursing homes receive quality care, there are also those who suffer elder abuse.

The Problem of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse, especially when it involves someone in a residential care facility, is often difficult to detect. Additionally, for every reported case of abuse, there are more than five cases that go on, unreported.

Nursing home abuse is a serious concern. Consider the following:

  • Seniors who suffer abuse are 300% more likely to die within three years after they have suffered the abuse.
  • One of every six nursing home residents suffers abuse or neglect each year.
  • 44% of all nursing home residents have reported abuse at some point while in a nursing home.

What Does Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Involve?

There are several types of nursing home abuse that can occur. The most common include:

  • Physical abuse – This includes things such as intentional hitting or pinching, overuse of restraints or a lack of physical care.
  • Sexual abuse – Refers to sexual attention given to patients who are unable to express their wishes or who are cognitively compromised.
  • Psychological abuse – Can include things such as humiliating, criticizing, yelling or shaming the patient in other ways.
  • Financial exploitation – Can occur when a caregiver takes advantage of the access they have to a person’s financial information, stealing from them or compromising their financial status.
  • Neglect – In many cases this is unintentional and occurs when a person’s needs are not taken care of.
  • Resident to resident abuse – This occurs if one resident abuses another resident psychologically, sexually or physically.

Signs of Nursing Home and Elder Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, you should take action. Some of the indications and signs that this issue may be present are:

  • Fractures or broken bones
  • Bed sores
  • Welts, cuts and bruising
  • Frequent infections
  • Caregivers who don’t want the patient to be left alone with anyone else
  • Indications of dehydration
  • Changes in a person’s mental status
  • Lack of cleanliness or poor physical appearance
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Refusal to take medication or eat
  • Reclusiveness or the refusal to speak
  • Emotional outbursts or mood swings

Keep in mind, not all patients who are suffering from nursing home abuse are going to show these symptoms. However, if you feel as though something is amiss with their care, it is best to investigate the situation further.

How Can You Help?

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, you need to take action. You can encourage your loved one to avoid becoming isolated by encouraging them to associate with others. Residents who have more friends are usually less likely to be targeted for abuse.

You can also review any regulatory violations regarding nursing homes and interview administrators before putting your loved one in a specific nursing home or care facility. You should also make sure that you know the signs of abuse, in case it does occur.

If you notice any of the signs highlighted here, or suspect abuse, it is also a good idea to contact our legal team at Miller Kory Rowe LLP. We can review the information you have and help figure out if you have a case to pursue damages against a nursing home or staff member. We can help ensure your elderly loved one is taken care of and their rights are protected.