It’s hard to watch your loved ones age. While some of us age gracefully and seem completely at peace with life, others have difficulty coping with aging and with the many ailments that befall us in our golden years. Whether a medical condition is to blame, or it’s just the gift of age itself, many elderly people begin having difficulty caring for themselves between the ages of 70 and 80. It is in these later years where a nursing home is considered an option for caring for someone who cannot care for themselves. Unfortunately, many nursing homes have become centers for abuse. Though not all nursing homes employ abusive people, the occurrence of abuse is a startling reminder that we have to use caution when considering a nursing home as an option for caring for a loved one. Here, we’ll break down how nursing home abuse occurs, and what to do about it and the facts to it.
Is Nursing Home Abuse Common?
It’s time for statistics that you might not want to hear. Believe it or not, every year more than 10,000 complaints are filed with the nursing home ombudsman regarding personal injury, neglect, or abuse. Even more startling, every year over 5,000,000 people are affected by some form of elder abuse according to the National Center On Elder Abuse (NCOA).
While elder abuse is a real problem in itself, it is becoming increasingly common in nursing homes, and this has to do with a variety of factors.
For example, one more frightening statistic from the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that 64 percent of nursing staff members surveyed admitted to some form of neglect or abuse when dealing with patients.
This means more than half of all workers have committed abuse in some form.
Why Does Abuse Occur?
Before we continue, if you suspect that a family member or loved one has been abused, consider hiring an attorney to handle your case. That being said, what exactly causes this type of abuse?
You might be surprised to learn that in over 60 percent of elderly abuse cases, the responsible party was a family member of the abused. Sadly, this statistic is largely attributed to the elderly person’s spouse or child. But, nursing home workers and other residents are also held to blame for many cases of abuse, and the reasons for this are attributed to the following list:
- Understaffing: Working long hours is thought to cause burnout and a higher rate of frustration.
- Negative attitudes: Some care workers are only working to collect a paycheck and have no compassion for the elderly they’re paid to care for.
- Infighting: Often, the other members of a nursing home will develop problems and differences. This can result in many forms of abuse from other residents.
- Lack of resources: If a nursing home facility lacks resources to care for the residents, this is also a form of neglect.
Though the above list reflects some of the reasons for abuse, this does not absolve anyone from being abusive to any nursing home resident.
Recognizing Types of Abuse
Abuse can come in many forms. While you might not be dealing with physical abuse, mental abuse is just as serious. In fact, victims of nursing home abuse are 300 percent more likely to die while under care than those who were not abused.
If you have a loved one in a nursing facility and suspect abuse, look for the obvious signs first.
These are signs such as frequent bruising, especially high on the arms under the shoulder and on the back of the head. Overmedication is also a sure tell-tale sign of abuse. If your family member seems over-medicated or incoherent every time you visit, this needs to be verified with a health care provider.
While the signs of abuse might not be visible, ask your loved one questions about their care often. If they’re afraid to talk about it with you, this is a definite sign of abuse and needs to be brought to the attention of the authorities.