Nursing home abuse is rampant in our society, according to recent statistics. However, there are not enough beds available to accommodate those who wish to enter nursing homes. While most people believe that their loved ones will be provided with responsible care when they place them in these facilities, the truth may actually be much different. Many older people suffer abuse or neglect in nursing homes; even more frightening, many never say a word to those who might be able to help them because they are afraid of becoming a burden or of retaliation on the part of nursing home staff or residents.
According to recent reports, as many as one-third of all nursing home residents may have experienced abuse or neglect. Additionally, about 5,000 deaths per year are estimated to occur due to elder abuse both in and out of nursing homes.
In one study done in 2005, close to 90 percent of all nursing homes had been reported to have at least one deficiency as measured by state standards. However, experts estimate that about 80 percent of all nursing home abuse cases probably go unreported.
By cutting corners, nursing homes may contribute to this ongoing problem. For example, 90 percent of homes employ at least one person with a criminal record. There are usually not enough beds to accommodate the number of patients who need care, and many of the companies that own these homes refuse to spend the money to expand. By one estimate, there is an average of as many as 20 complaints per nursing home per year.
Nursing home abuse leads to many problems for victims. Physical abuse can lead to disability and loss of motor skills, while depression can lead to physical symptoms. Many nursing home abuse victims exhibit symptoms such as burns, bruises and even sexually transmitted diseases from sexual abuse.
Financial abuse, which is the most common type of abuse, can lead to loss of the victim’s ability to pay for healthcare services. In fact, some nursing home patients have actually lost their places in their nursing homes because of theft on the part of the nursing home staff.
Psychological abuse can destabilize patients and lead to depression and even loss of cognitive ability. There have been cases in which psychological abuse has been linked to the onset of dementia and other problems, as well.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are things you can do to help them avoid becoming the victims of abuse. Family members can encourage their elderly loved ones to minimize isolation by associating with others. Those nursing home residents who have many friends are less likely to be the targets of abuse, so mingling and taking part in activities is a good way to protect themselves from becoming targets.
Family members are also encouraged to review any regulatory violations of nursing homes and to interview administrators before placing a loved one in a home. They should also be sure that their elderly loved ones are briefed on the signs of abuse and that they know who to tell if something happens.
If you think your loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Gilleon Law Firm, APC in San Diego.