NURSING HOME NEGLECT
The Reality of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
It is a sad truth that abuse and neglect of the elderly in nursing homes is a real problem. Unfortunately, the elderly are too often taken advantage of by those who are supposed to be protecting them.
As the elderly population continues to increase, so does the incidence of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Abuse and neglect can take many forms, including verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as neglect of basic needs. It is important to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect so that we can help protect the vulnerable elderly population.
Definition of Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse is defined as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. This can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Elderly abuse is a serious problem that often goes unreported because of the elderly person’s fear of retribution or lack of awareness of the problem.
Types of Abuse and Neglect
Physical abuse is one of the most common types of abuse and neglect. It includes striking, hitting, pushing, burning, or any other type of physical force that causes harm or injury to an elderly person. Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact or behavior that is non-consensual or forced on an elderly person. Emotional abuse is any type of behavior that causes emotional pain or distress, such as verbal abuse, threats, or humiliation. Financial abuse is the misuse of an elderly person’s funds or property for another person’s benefit. Neglect is the failure of a caregiver to provide the necessary care for an elderly person.
Causes of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Several factors can contribute to abuse and neglect in nursing homes. These include inadequate staffing levels, lack of training, high patient-to-staff ratios, and inadequate pay for staff. In addition, nurses and other staff may be overwhelmed or overworked, leading to neglect of patient care. Poor communication between staff and patients can also lead to abuse and neglect.
Warning Signs of Abuse and Neglect
It is important to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. These can include unexplained injuries or bruises, unexplained weight loss, poor hygiene, bed sores, signs of restraint, changes in mood or behavior, and avoidance of certain caregivers. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take action to protect the elderly person from further abuse and neglect.
Statistics of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 1 out of 10 nursing home residents experiences some form of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, only 1 in 24 cases of abuse and neglect are reported to authorities.
Actions to Take if You Suspect Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect that an elderly person may be a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, it is important to take action. The first step is to report the suspected abuse or neglect to the local adult protective services agency. You can also contact the Maryland Long-Term Care Ombudsman: https://aging.maryland.gov/Pages/state-long-term-care-ombudsman.aspx https://aging.maryland.gov/Pages/state-long-term-care-ombudsman.aspx, who is responsible for advocating on behalf of nursing home residents. Finally, you may need to contact a lawyer who specializes in elder abuse and neglect cases.
Steps to Help Prevent Abuse and Neglect
Several steps can be taken to help prevent abuse and neglect in nursing homes. These include regular visits to the nursing home to check on the elderly person’s well-being, staying in contact with the nursing home staff, and being aware of any changes in the elderly person’s behavior or health. It is also important to investigate any reports of abuse or neglect and to ensure that the nursing home is following all state and federal regulations.
Resources to Help Those Who Are Abused and Neglected
There are a number of organizations and resources available to those who have been abused or neglected in nursing homes. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) https://ncea.acl.gov/ https://ncea.acl.gov/ provides information and resources to help those who have been victims of abuse and neglect. The NCEA also provides training for those who work with the elderly and conducts research to better understand the problem of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. The Elder Justice Initiative https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice is another organization that provides resources, training, and advocacy for victims of elder abuse and neglect.
Legal Implications of Elder Abuse and Neglect
It is important to understand the legal implications of elder abuse and neglect. There are criminal laws that make it illegal to abuse or neglect an elderly person. There are also civil laws that allow victims to sue their abusers and those who have neglected to protect them. It is important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws in your state to ensure that the elderly person is protected.
Sadly, abuse and neglect of the elderly in nursing homes is a real problem. It is important to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect and to take action if you suspect that an elderly person is being abused or neglected. There are organizations and resources available to help those who have been victims of abuse and neglect, and there are legal protections in place for the elderly population. If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact Ballenger & Roche today for your free consultation.
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