Protecting the Rights of Nursing Home Residents in Mercer County
Caring for a loved one with dementia or other disabilities can be overwhelming. You may not be able to provide the round-the-clock supervision and health-related care that your loved one requires. Many people must make the heart-wrenching decision to trust a nursing care facility or a nursing home to properly care for their loved ones. While there are facilities that are staffed by loving, competent caregivers, unfortunately many residents suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of nursing care staff or even other residents. And, because your loved one is so vulnerable and may not be able to properly convey their suffering, you may not discover it right away.
Shockingly, a recent study reported that approximately half of nursing home attendants had admitted neglecting or abusing elderly patients. And a recent study showed that an elderly nursing home resident who experienced abuse of any type had a risk of death that was 300% higher than an elderly person who had not been abused.
- As many as 5,000,000 million elders are abused each year. It is believed that as many as 24.3% of nursing home residents experienced at least one incident of abuse while in a nursing home. However, a separate study indicates that only one in 14 incidents is formally reported.
- Elder abuse comes in many forms. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial, and it isn’t always obvious.
- U.S. Nursing Homes are frequently cited for violations. Over a two-year period, nearly one-third of nursing homes in the United States were cited for violating federal regulations that could have led to actual harm of a resident.
- One fifth of nursing home residents are abused by other patients. Of these, 16 % experienced verbal abuse, seven percent reported physical abuse, three percent were victims of sexual abuse, and eight percent reported inappropriate, disruptive, or hostile behavior by other residents
- Up to 80% of nursing homes lie about staffing levels. The quality of nursing home care and safety is directly related to staffing levels, yet data suggests that staffing levels reported to Medicare by thousands of nursing homes do not match their financial reports. This means they are not being forthright about the level of care at their facilities.
- Elderly in the LGBT community face higher levels of abuse and neglect. A recent study indicates that 29% have been physically attacked; 65% reported verbal abuse, threats of violence, sexual assault, discrimination and more; and eight percent had been abused or neglected by homophobic caretakers.
It isn’t always easy to spot the signs of abuse and neglect in the elderly population, because many of the signs are also associated with aging. Some of the signs may point toward physical or emotional abuse. Some may point to neglect. Some may indicate over-medication or excessive use of sedatives. For nursing home residents who are unable to report their abuse, this is especially troubling. But even those residents who are capable of reporting mistreatment often do not – they may believe there are no alternatives, or they may fear retaliation from their caregivers.
There are several signs that may indicate nursing abuse or neglect, including:
- Weight loss
- Bruises, cuts, and broken bones
- Cognitive confusion
- Dirty or torn clothing or linens