If you have a loved one in a nursing home do you worry about the care they are receiving? Given some of the horror stories we hear about on the nightly news or read about online it is difficult not to worry about the care a loved one is receiving in a nursing home facility. Is that concern really justified? Are nursing homes really that likely to abuse and neglect patients or are we just hearing about the sensationalized exception to the rule? The answer is both – and neither. While there are plenty of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that provide compassionate care to the residents of the home, there are also nursing home where abuse and neglect occur on a regular basis. Exactly how common is nursing home abuse and how can you make sure your loved one isn’t a victim? Finally, what can you do if your loved one has been the victim of abuse and/or neglect at a nursing home? Knowing the answers to these questions should make you feel better informed and better prepared to protect your loved one.
Elder Abuse – The Sad Reality
The older population in the United States is growing at an unprecedented rate. By the year 2050, experts predict that the number of older Americans (age 65 and older) will outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and younger) for the first time in history. Sadly, the elderly explosion has also led to an increase in elder abuse. More accurately, it has led to the issue of elder abuse being thrown into the spotlight. Precise figures relating to elder abuse are difficult to come by for several reasons, including the fact that the vast majority of elder abuse victims do not report the abuse either out of fear or embarrassment. Conservative estimates, however, tell us that as many as two million older Americans are abused and/or neglected every year in the U.S. – and the true number of elder abuse victims may be much higher.
Nursing Home Abuse Facts and Figures
While a significant percentage of elder abuse occurs in family care settings, nursing homes have their share of abuse and neglect claims as well. In fact, some of the facts and figures relating to nursing home abuse may shock you.
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities.
- Nearly 10% of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients.
- More than 30% of all nursing homes experience some form of resident abuse.
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
- 92% of all nursing homes employ at least one convicted criminal
- 90% of US nursing homes have staff levels too low for adequate care.
- 20 complaints per nursing home were received in 2007.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse and/or Neglect
If those nursing home abuse and neglect facts and figures scare you, they should. Clearly, for every one nursing home that provides exceptional, compassionate care, there is at least one that turns a blind eye to abuse and neglect. If you believe that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse it is imperative that you contact an experienced North Dakota elder law attorney right away. Along with helping you remove your loved ones from the facility – through obtaining guardianship if necessary – your elder law attorney can explain other legal options you may also have.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about nursing home abuse in the State of North Dakota contact the experienced elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.