The United States Census Bureau estimates that within three decades, persons aged 65 or older will make up about 20% of the population. That is an estimated 60 million people. As the population ages, so will the number of people in nursing homes. This may help explain why we are already seeing an increase in the number of nursing home injuries and abuse that are being reported. This article will discuss the statistics relating to nursing home abuse and injuries, as well as where to report such incidents if you suspect that harm is being done to someone you know.
Nursing home injuries can occur in a number of situations and environments. However, the various forms of abuse generally fall into the following categories:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial exploitation
Nursing home neglect can also take a number of forms, but is generally defined as a failure to provide for an elderly person’s needs with respect of food, shelter, clothing, hygiene or health care.
A study conducted in 2000 that was documented by the National Center of Elder Abuse (NCEA), reported that researchers found that 44% of the nursing home residents surveyed stated that they had been abused or mistreated in the previous 12 months. During the same research study, it was found that 95% of those surveyed had witnessed instances of neglect or suffered neglect during the same time period. Further, similar studies documented by the NCEA estimated that only 1 out of every 24 instances of nursing home abuse is reported. A study carried out by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging, Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, showed the following findings:
- The elder abuse incident rate is nearly 24 times greater than the number of cases referred to social services, law enforcement, or legal authorities
- Psychological abuse is the most common form of elder abuse
- In New York alone, at least 260,000 older adults had been the victims of at least some form of abuse
According to the Administration of Aging, some warning signs that may indicate abuse or neglect include the following:
- Existence of inadequately explained injuries, such as fractures, bruises, welts, cut, sores or burns
- Lack of affordable amenities and comforts in a senior’s home
- Giving uncharacteristically excessive gifts or financial reimbursements for needed help and companionship
- Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling or uncaring
- Caregiver isolates the elder
- Lack of basic hygiene or appropriate clothing
- Lack of nutritional food
- Lack of medical aids
If you recognize any of these warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be asking what can you do to assist an abused or neglected nursing home resident? What to do depends in part on the seriousness of the abuse and neglect – if someone is imminent danger and you feel that it’s an emergency situation, call 911. However, if it is not a life-threatening emergency, you should contact your local law enforcement agency and Adult Protective Services to make a report. Thereafter, it is recommended that you see assistance from skilled and caring lawyers in Anchorage Alaska who have experience handling nursing home abuse and neglect.