Nursing Home Abuse Rising in U.S.
Entrusting someone to care for your loved one in a nursing home can be an uneasy decision for family members, even if it may be for the best. Making the decision even more grueling are the recent reports surrounding the news of elderly neglect and abuse among senior communities and other care facilities.
Recognizing Signs of Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse in nursing homes can range from lack of proper patient care, patient isolation, theft of personal belongings, and much more. Although it is difficult to even fathom that your loved one could be suffering, it’s important to look out for warning signs of neglect and abuse. According to a trusted mental, emotional & social health guide, the following signs could be indicators of elderly maltreatment: changes in personality, unexplained bruises or injuries, rapid weight loss, unusual withdrawals from patient’s bank accounts and behavior mimicking dementia.
Elderly Abuse across the U.S.
The statistics across the U.S. involving elderly neglect and abuse are quite shocking. According to a Sacramento Injury Lawyer ninety-one percent of facilities lack the sufficient staff to properly care for residents, while thirty-six percent have already been cited once before for violating abuse laws. It was also reported from a 2015 survey that over half of elderly caregivers have been guilty of mistreating their patients.
In late 2012, a case of elderly abuse was reported at an Oklahoma City nursing home. After Doris Racher noticed a few personal items missing from her 96-year-old mother’s room at the institution, she placed a motion-activated camera near her bed. After watching the recordings Ms. Racher realized that theft was not the issue but instead physical abuse from nurses who were supposed to be caring for her mother, Eryetha Mayberry, according to The New York Times.
A different case of abuse was reported in March of 2016. Katherine Lenoir, a caregiver working at a Rehabilitation center in Alabama, was charged with inadvertently administering a large dose of narcotic pain medication to a patient who was supposed to be taking cough medicine, according to WBRC News. Instead of reporting her mistake, Ms. Lenoir altered records to falsely show she’d given the correct medication; She now faces up to 10 years in prison.
Preventing Elder Abuse
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman comments on the issue stating, “We will arrest those who put our most vulnerable citizens in harm’s way, and in particular those who neglect or deny life-saving medical treatments to patients. We must and will do everything in our power to protect our nursing home residents from abuse.”
Elderly abuse is an obvious and increasing problem that has gone unnoticed by society for far too long. Although awareness of the topic has slowly been growing, a solution is strides behind. To help combat the mistreatment of senior citizens, World Elder Abuse Day is observed every June 15th. This day is an opportunity for involved communities to promote the cause and to help the public gain a better understanding of elderly neglect and abuse.
Mark Twomey, Co-Director at National Center on Elder Abuse states, “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day provides an opportunity for people to learn more about abuse and neglect of older Americans. Research shows that as many as 1 in 10 seniors are abused, neglected or financially exploited. Everyone needs to learn more about warning signs of elder abuse and what each person can do to prevent it or report it to Audit Protective Services if they suspect it.”
Along with annual recognition, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed VetoViolence.cdc.gov. The site shares training programs and resources that focus on stopping violence before it starts. The National Center on Elder Abuse has also created an accessible fact sheet to help recognize various types of elder neglect and abuse.