Older Americans deserve to live with dignity and to be safe. But too many suffer the indignity of being abused, neglected, or exploited. A new study indicates that one in 10 Americans age 60 or older experiences some form of abuse each year. Of those cases, only one in 14 gets reported to authorities. Recently, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, was celebrated as a way to bring this epidemic to light.
Nursing home abuse is a serious problem in North Carolina (NC) and other states. In 2013 there were more than 21,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable and older adults made to North Carolina’s 100 county departments of social services. Sadly, statistics show that the abuse occurs in about 30% of all nursing homes. How can you protect your loved ones from elder abuse? First, you need to know all of what the abuse entails. According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
This can be harder to spot than you think because nursing home abuse presents itself in many different ways and can range from physical, sexual, and psychological abuse to malnutrition, financial exploitation and pure neglect. It’s a heavy burdens for families to bear after already making the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. It’s unconscionable that anyone should have to suffer through any type of neglect or abuse at the hands of a caregiver.
If you do suspect nursing home abuse the first step is to try and talk to your loved one. However, one of the reasons that nursing home abuse is so prevalent is because it is sometimes difficult to communicate with the elderly. They may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, still others may be altogether non-verbal. Whatever the barriers, however, it is vital for you to talk to your loved one about nursing home abuse and then to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. It’s important that you understand your legal options in pursuing a civil claim for damages. To help with that, consider reading our firm’s free report on nursing home abuse and neglect, which contains a discussion of the steps you can take if you suspect a loved one has been abused by the staff at a nursing home.