Nearly two million Americans live in long-term care facilities. Too often, we share with our readers stories of elderly patients being abused and/or neglected at nursing homes or assisted living facilities. These are the very places that many victims’ families entrusted to take care of their loved one, expecting that the facility would provide a safe and nurturing place and ensuring all their loved ones needs would be met.
According to statistics from the Silver Ribbon Project, nursing home abuse is one of the most underreported forms of abuse, with no clear tracking system in place. This leaves no definite numbers of how many abuse cases actually occur each year. But the organization has compiled the following statistics:
- Each year, between one to two million people, aged 65 years or older, injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
- Between two to ten percent of nursing home residents are abused.
- Ninety percent of nursing home facilities are understaffed.
- One in three nursing homes has been cited for abuse.
- For every one case of abuse or neglect that is reported, five cases go unreported.
- Only one in fourteen cases is actually reported to the proper authorities.
- According to the latest available figure, states reported almost 500,000 victims per year.
- Rates of abuse are expected to grow three hundred percent over the next thirty years.
The National Center on Elder Abuse Administration on Aging (NCEA) advises families to look for signs that their loved one may be a victim of elderly abuse. Signs of physical abuse include:
Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include but are not limited to:
- Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations and rope marks.
- Bone fractures, broken bones and skull fractures.
- Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing.
- Sprains, dislocations and internal injuries/bleeding.
- Broken eyeglasses/frames, physical signs of being subjected to punishment and signs of being restrained.
- Laboratory findings of medication overdose or underutilization of prescribed drugs.
- Patient’s report of being hit, slapped, kicked or mistreated.
- Patient’s sudden change in behavior
Signs and symptoms of neglect include but are not limited to:
- Dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores and poor personal hygiene.
- Unattended or untreated health problems.
Medicare offers the tool “Nursing Home Compare” on their website. The program gives detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country