Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States.
Its full extent is unknown because elder abuse often goes unreported. We do know, however, that the problem is likely to worsen as the American population continues to age. By the year 2050, people who have attained the age of 65 will constitute 20% of the nation’s population.
While the majority of elder abuse often occurs within families, seniors who live in nursing homes and other long-term healthcare facilities are also at risk of experiencing abuse and neglect. Researchers estimate that 43% of the American population will be admitted to a nursing home at some point in their lives.
All forms of elder abuse are deplorable. Reports of abuse committed by family members and financial crimes committed by strangers are usually addressed by law enforcement and social services agencies. Abuse committed within a nursing home or by healthcare providers can often be remedied only with the help of nursing home abuse lawyers.
Nursing homes and other facilities and services that provide healthcare to seniors have a sad history of abusing their patients. A 2012 survey of elderly nursing home residents in Michigan found that almost 25% of nursing home residents had experienced at least one incident of physical abuse inflicted by staff members. A study of nursing home residents in 2000 found that 44% of the residents who were interviewed reported that they had been abused.
Seniors who reside in nursing homes tend to be less independent, and therefore less able to protect themselves from abuse, than seniors who have greater mobility and more contact with the outside world. In addition, the physical and mental condition of many nursing home residents often limits their ability to complain about abuse. Since they are dependent upon nursing home staff for meals, medication, and other assistance, elderly residents may fear retaliation if they complain about being mistreated. Nursing home patients are therefore particularly vulnerable to abuse.
What is nursing home abuse?
The phrase “nursing home abuse” is often used generically to describe abuse committed within residential facilities for seniors and by employees of services that provide healthcare to an elderly population. Institutions and services that might commit elder abuse include:
Nursing homes (residential care facilities that provide skilled nursing care to elderly residents who suffer from disabilities, chronic illnesses, or dementia)
Residential care institutions (healthcare institutions that provide residential care to seniors who do not need inpatient nursing care)
Assisted living facilities (residential facilities that provide help to seniors with their activities of daily living, such as bathing and getting dressed)