One of the cycles of life is that children one day will be responsible for taking care of their aging parents. When families don’t have the space, medical knowledge, or financial resources to make this happen at home, a nursing home is often used to supplement care. The only problem is that this opens up the elderly to abuse that can occur at these homes.
According to some reports, up to 33% of the elderly who live in a nursing home experience abuse in some form.
Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes
Elderly abuse in a nursing home can happen in a number of different ways. It might be a consistent refusal to give needed medicine or care. It could be refusing to change the undergarments of someone. It might mean providing improper nutrition or failing to make periodic checks. Every abuse allegation should be taken seriously, but unfortunately not everyone is.
- A recent study that was sponsored by the US Government found that 30% of nursing homes in the country were cited for at least one instance of abuse in a two year period.
- There were almost 9,000 total instances of abuse that were documented, including untreated bedsores, dehydration, and accidents that could have been prevented.
- Nearly 20% of the abuse incidents that were reported were serious enough to place elderly residents in immediate jeopardy of serious injury or death.
- By 2050, the amount of people who are age 65 or older is expected to make up at least 20% of the total US population.
Although the staff of a nursing home will take the brunt of these negative statistics, it is important to include the fact that these numbers include abuse that occurs on a resident-to-resident basis. That being said, the fact that there are elderly folks who are routinely being slapped, punched, kicked, or even choked by staff members or other residents is troublesome. One incident had a staff member slap someone in the face, breaking the resident’s nose, simply because the staff member was tired of that person. Incidents of abuse have been rising every year since 1996, which means now is the time to act. It’s time to take the blinders off to this problem.
Why Is Elderly Abuse Becoming Such A Problem?
- 90% of people who are abused refuse to report the incident because many caregivers are family members that they don’t want to get into trouble.
- A recent study showed that up to 10% of the elderly being cared for had been abused at least once in the last 12 months.
- One study estimates that only 1 instance of elderly abuse in nursing homes out of every 14 that actually happen are ever brought to the attention of authorities.
- 4.1% of the elderly in nursing homes also experience some form of financial exploitation that affects reporting rates of abuse.
- In one study that focused on just New York, it was estimated that at least 260,000 elderly adults had been the victim of at least some form of abuse.
Taking care of the elderly can be a very difficult job, which means nursing homes need to take on some responsibility in providing relief to caregivers. Although it could be argued that taking care of someone is a professional responsibility, extended shifts beyond 12 hours, constant overtime, low wages in the industry, and other pressures create an unsuitable atmosphere for a staff member to provide adequate care. With these present and some elderly folks having some very demanding needs that must be cared for routinely, it is understandable, but not excusable, to see stressful situations turn into abuse. This needs to change right now.
What Are The Effects of Elderly Abuse?
- In a recent survey of elderly folks who lived in a community setting, over 95% of them stated that they had been neglected or had seen others being neglected.
- In this same survey, 1 out of every 2 nursing home staff members admitted to abusing a resident within their nursing home.
- A 2000 study conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse showed that 44% of over 2,000 residents reported that they had been abused.
- The elderly who experience abuse of any form, if it is just one occurrence, have a 300% higher risk of experiencing a premature death when compared to those who don’t experience abuse.
- 91% of nursing homes lack the adequate staff to properly care for patients, according to their own policies and procedures.
- 36% of nursing homes in the United States have been in violation of elderly abuse laws at some point during their existence.
The average age of someone being abused in this kind of setting in about 78 years of age, which means they are already more vulnerable than others. Add in physical disabilities, mental conditions, and medication needs and these elderly folks become a “safe” target for their abusers because there is very little that can be done to fight back. With 68% of all adult protective service cases involving elderly abuse and two thirds of them being perpetrated by family members, the amount of elderly abuse that occurs, especially in nursing homes, looks to grow even more as the population continues to age. What does this mean? That it is up to all of us to check-in with our families from time to time, visit elderly relatives in nursing homes routinely, and follow up quickly on any conversation regarding abuse so that everyone can receive the care, protection, and love they deserve.