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The Real Impact of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse has a much more significant impact in the United States than many Americans realize. With physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse plaguing the lives of approximately 44 percent of nursing home residents every year throughout the nation, nursing home abuse is a real concern no matter where an elder resides. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are an estimated 3.2 million Americans who reside in approximately 16,639 nursing homes throughout the United States. Six out of seven of those residents are age 65 or older. A disturbing 95 percent... 

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Nursing home abuse has a much more significant impact in the United States than many Americans realize. With physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse plaguing the lives of approximately 44 percent of nursing home residents every year throughout the nation, nursing home abuse is a real concern no matter where an elder resides.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there are an estimated 3.2 million Americans who reside in approximately 16,639 nursing homes throughout the United States. Six out of seven of those residents are age 65 or older. A disturbing 95 percent of nursing home patients who were surveyed said they had either been neglected or seen another patient neglected, and one out of ten facilities had violations that caused harm to residents, seriously injuring some and placing others in jeopardy of death between the years of 1999 and 2001.

An astounding 50 percent of nursing home staff having admitted to abusing or neglecting older patients as well. In fact, a disturbing 17 percent of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who were surveyed said they had grabbed, pushed or shoved a nursing home resident, approximately 51 percent admitted to yelling at a patient, and 23 percent confirmed swearing at or insulting an elder in the facility.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Residents of long term care facilities suffer from a wide range of abuses from staff members and even other patients. Some of the types of nursing home abuse these individuals endure include:

  • Physical Abuse: Physical abuse accounts for approximately 29 percent of nursing home complaints received according to the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). Injuries commonly sustained due to physical abuse in nursing homes include minor harm like bruises or welts, as well as more serious damages like head trauma and even death. The inappropriate use of restraints or sedating medication are considered types of physical abuse as well.
  • Psychological Abuse: According to NORS, the second most prevalent type of abuse nursing home residents suffer is psychological. In fact, 21 percent of complaints filed alleged psychological abuse. Psychological abuse can result in a significant decline in the victim's mental state, often causing depression, aggression, withdrawal, and the loss of communication skills. Common types of psychological abuse in nursing homes include name calling, humiliation, threats, shouting, and long periods of isolation.
  • Abuse from Other Residents: Approximately 22 percent of nursing home complaints involved abuse from other residents.
  • Gross Neglect: Not surprisingly, 14 percent of complaints received from nursing home residents and their loved ones include allegations of neglect. Examples of neglect include failing to provide the patient with assistance for his or her basic needs, adequate medical care or intervention to prevent medical conditions, or social interaction. While not an excuse, the shortage of qualified nursing home staff is often a factor in neglect cases.
  • Sexual Abuse: Although 7 percent of complaints involve sexual abuse, it is estimated that only 30 percent of incidents are ever reported to authorities. An astonishing 70 percent of incidents of elder sexual abuse occur in nursing homes, and women have six times more chance of becoming sexually abused. Common types of sexual abuse that occurs in nursing homes include rape, forced nudity, sexual photography, and sexual assault. Sexual abuse can result in the transmission of disease, bodily injury, emotional distress, and even death.
  • Financial Abuse: Financial exploitation is responsible for approximately 7 percent of nursing home complaints in the United States. Since it is common for staff members to have access to credit cards, debit cards, checking accounts and even cash, they sometimes steal money from unsuspecting residents. While some caregivers take meager amounts of money, others are so bold as to completely deplete the victim's finances. In extreme situations, caregivers steal the identity of nursing home residents and establish credit accounts to further exploit them.

Who is At Risk for Nursing Home Abuse?

While nursing home abuse can occur in any facility, and any resident may become a victim to such crime, some individuals are at a higher risk than others. Individuals who suffer from dementia, residents of understaffed nursing homes, and people who suffer from physical or mental disabilities are more likely to be abused. Additionally, individuals who lack visitors and those who are socially isolated are highly susceptible.

Nursing home residents who are subjected to abuse and neglect are at a significantly higher risk for mortality. In fact, abused individuals in a nursing home setting are approximately 300 percent more likely to die within one year. Being aware of the signs of nursing home abuse, promptly reporting such actions and filing a nursing home abuse claim for these crimes are all effective ways to reduce the number of incidents that occur each year.

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