Unfortunately, abuse of the elderly, per government and medical sources, is an ongoing problem in American society, with policymakers and medical professionals struggling to address what many commentators have opined is an epidemic of underreported or non-reported nursing home abuse injuries across the country. By even the most conservative figures, the Administration on Aging estimates multi-million numbers of unreported elder abuse occurring annually, which includes the nationally-recognized definitional category of elder abuse as physical, financial, emotional, or even sexual violations of the elderly and a reasonable duty of care owed to these vulnerable patient populations.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are supposed to provide a safe, clean and caring environment for your loved ones or family members. When that environment is no longer safe, it’s absolutely vital for all patients in a given facility as well as the individual claimants involved to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their damages caused to the elderly.
Due to poor hiring procedures, and poorly trained staff, many nursing homes simply are not capable of providing an appropriate level of care in light the patient population and numbers housed at a given facility. In any case, understaffing and over-population of residents in a nursing home facility breeds both abuse and neglect forms of nursing home abuse injuries.
In terms or elderly abuse and neglect, there is a clear distinction between the two. Nursing home abuse is often intentional, oftentimes criminal conduct entailing direct harms perpetrated against a patient in gross violation of the ordinary course of care. Alternatively, neglect is a failure to provide a required standard of care by way of indifference or inactivity towards the patient by staff, who knowingly chose to ignore the known medical needs of the patient. As mentioned, abuse may take on many forms, and in turn, state laws will vary in terms of how a given act of harm perpetrated against a patient may be construed per state criminal and civil law.
Typical signs of nursing home abuse include such injuries:
If you suspect a nursing home staff member of abusing your loved one, first and foremost report it. You can report elderly abuse and nursing home abuse injuries to a number of helplines as well as to the Adult Protective Services (APA). Additionally, to ensure that your love one is not being taken advantage of you can openly voice your concerns to the nursing home director, as well as by consulting with external legal counsel and independent medical professionals. By being involved, you can help prevent further abuse or neglect.
In general, nursing homes and any other assisted living facilities are legal required by federal and state law to provide as well as uphold the appropriate standards of care. Furthermore, under federal regulations, a nursing home or assisted living facility must provide the resident a safe environment with adequate supervision and assistance. As a concerned friend or family member it is therefore important to watch for any of the typical warning signs of nursing home abuse or elderly neglect. Likewise, any unexplainable injuries should be cause for concern, and if suspicions are raised, a lawyer should be subsequently contacted, if a resident or patient is injured due to an act of negligence or abuse as the nursing home or assisted living facility can be held legally responsible.
For further research into the prevalence of nursing home abuse injuries in the US health and elderly care system, consult with the following resources from the National Center on Elder Abuse per the US Department of Health and Human Services: