Despite recent changes and enforcement of elder abuse law, abuse in nursing homes is more common than most people believe, often leaving lasting physical and emotional damage to victims and their families.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, 134 instances of potential elder abuse were discovered in 33 states as well as almost 35,000 Medicare reports of abuse between 2015-2017.
However, the American Association of Retired Persons reveals only 1 out of every 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to authorities.
Here are a few main eye-opening truths you should know about elder abuse and the myths surrounding them.
Myth 1: Nursing home abuse is primarily physical in nature.
While physical abuse is often the most commonly identified and reported, it’s certainly not the only type. In fact, potential abuse can vary widely – and, the World Health Organization cites these additional forms:
- Poor food preparation
- Lack of comprehensive assessment and care
- Insufficient housekeeping
- Lack of respect for dignity
- Failure to prevent accidents
TIP: Take a thorough look at a nursing home’s environment and practices before admitting your elderly family member.
Myth 2: Elder abuse is primarily active in nature.
Neglect continues to be one of the primary forms of abuse in nursing homes. It is not always intentional but might be a by-product of inadequate staffing or funding – particularly in state-funded nursing home models.
Neglect can lead to serious physical, mental, and emotional problems that last long after the abuse stops.
TIP: Take frequent and consistent audits of the physical and emotional condition of your elderly loved one to ensure he or she isn’t being neglected.
Myth 3: Caregivers abuse due to occupational stress.
While job-related stress can certainly be a precursor to abuse, there is a variety of mitigating factors that result in elderly maltreatment that are both active and passive in nature.
More causes of abuse beyond caregiver stress may include:
- Discrimination against specific elder groups
- Dissatisfaction with their work environment
- Indifference to patient needs
TIP: Meet with nursing home administrators to discuss staff quality and commitment to employee care.
Myth 4: Elder abuse laws adequately protect victims.
While there has been an improvement in the scope and application of elder abuse law, its effectiveness is often questioned by impacted families. Even though state law remains the primary source of accountability for violators, affected families would like to see a sharper edge on federal action.
Fortunately, offenders are commonly punished with extended jail sentences and stiff civil fines.
TIP: Consult an expert elder abuse attorney immediately if you suspect abuse of a loved one.
Myth 5: Elder abuse victims will reveal the abuse.
Unfortunately, many abuse sufferers are unwilling – or, unable – to press charges, particularly if the violator has the potential to threaten or intimidate the victim. The World Health Organization reports that ‘older people are often regarded as being unreliable witnesses’ and the violation itself as being primarily ‘a caregiver issue.’
Because of this, silence or initial denial of abuse by the elder patient does not necessarily indicate an absence of abuse.
TIP: Document signs of suspected abuse immediately. Ask your loved one to share his or her personal testimony and keep a record of their words. Include detailed accounts from other witnesses if possible.
Contact an Elder Abuse Attorney
Nursing home abuse remains a serious issue to address across America. However, an experienced elder abuse attorney can help ease your loved one’s suffering and ensure responsible parties are held accountable.
Nursing home abuse is a serious violation of the law and may warrant compensation on behalf of victims and their families in civil court. If you suspect a family member or loved one has suffered from direct or negligent abuse in nursing homes, please call (877) 987-9529 or schedule a free consultation with the elder abuse attorneys at The Flood Law Firm today.