How Common Is Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?

When you hear the terminology elder abuse, you may envision an older individual being physically abused. That isn’t the only way elderly individuals are mistreated or taken advantage of, though. Financial, emotional, and sexual abuse all also fit into the broad category of elder abuse.

Elder abuse is an epidemic, whether one lives in a big city like Atlanta, GA or Cincinnati, OH or a smaller one like Macon, GA or Florence, KY. This type of ill-treatment or taking advantage of others occurs at the hands of nursing home staff, home healthcare aids, and others.

If the number of elder abuse cases like this that our Bey & Associates personal injury lawyers handle is any indicator of how prevalent this phenomenon is, then this mistreatment happens often.

Below, we’ll deep dive into the statistics that show how common elder abuse is in nursing homes. We’ll highlight which nursing home residents are most vulnerable to elder abuse and signs to look for that may indicate your older loved one is being abused. We’ll then cover what steps you’ll want to take if you’re convinced your loved one is being or has been abused.

Statistics Regarding How Often Nursing Home Residents Face Elder Abuse

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse affects an estimated one out of every 10 American adults aged 60 and above. That same data shows that victims perhaps only report one out of every 24 cases, though. This alarming trend has led some experts to conclude that as many as 5 million American seniors in our country might endure elder abuse annually.

Which Nursing Home Residents Are Most Likely To Suffer Elder Abuse?

While any nursing home residents, both young and old, are vulnerable to being treated poorly, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has determined that socially isolated seniors are one of two groups most commonly subjected to elder abuse. So too are residents in memory care facilities (ones that care for persons with dementia, for example) and anyone suffering from intellectual disabilities or mental health issues.

Understanding the Different Types of Elder Abuse

As mentioned above, there are four primary types of elder abuse, each involving perpetrators carrying out varying destructive acts. They include:

Emotional Abuse

This type of elder abuse often involves a loved one being on the receiving end of name-calling, threats, use of curse words, and insults about behaviors, intellect, or appearance.

It often takes some time for someone subjected to emotional abuse to show some of the following signs that they’ve faced harm:

  • A fear of talking in the presence of the abuser
  • Social withdrawal, such as a reduction in phone calls home
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Sexual Abuse

This abuse often involves a situation in which an individual is subjected to unsolicited or non-consensual sexual content.

Signs a nursing home resident is facing sexual abuse include:

  • They appear to be becoming increasingly socially withdrawn
  • Their underwear is bloody or appears tattered
  • They have bruising in or around their private parts
  • They receive an unexpected urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted disease (STD) diagnosis

Physical Abuse

Any instance in which a person is subjected to forceful contact, whether it’s scratching, hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, pulling, or even using physical restraints, may constitute physical abuse.

Signs that your loved one may be a victim of physical abuse include they:

  • Have sudden, unexplained sprains, dislocations, fractures, and similar chronic injuries
  • Complain of discomfort or pain when asked to move in certain ways
  • Have imprints on their skin left behind by physical restraints
  • Suddenly have cuts or bruises for no discernable reason

Financial Abuse

Situations that deprive a nursing home resident of money or valuables (since they have a monetary value) and even personal information that may be later used for unauthorized financial gain may constitute abuse.

Do some further digging if you notice some of the following common signs of financial abuse:

  • Large, unexpected, and inexplicable withdrawals are made from a nursing home resident’s bank account
  • Your loved one’s checks, cash, or any credit or debit cards they have go missing
  • A series of valuables like jewelry, antiques, phones, and computers go missing from your relative’s residence

Indicators that a relative is facing elder abuse will vary depending on how long the ill-treatment has been going on, its severity, and its type, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when assessing your relative’s situation. If elder abuse, and more specifically physical abuse,  is left to linger on too long, it could ultimately result in your loved one’s wrongful death.

Who Are the Perpetrators of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?

When you hear about elder abuse, you may assume that the mistreatment residents endure happens only at nursing home staff members’ hands. That’s not always the case, though.

While it’s true that nursing home staff members inflict the bulk of elder abuse at these long-term care facilities, other individuals who work at or visit the facility may also take advantage of your loved one such as:

  • Programs presenters
  • Food vendors
  • Visiting doctors
  • Package delivery workers
  • Outside pharmacy employees
  • Family members
  • Facilities management contractors, such as exterminators

The list goes on and on as to third parties that may visit the premises and residents’ rooms and could unnecessarily put your resident loved one in harm’s way.

Why Do Abusers Inflict Harm Upon Nursing Home Residents?

Nursing home caregivers and the third parties described above may inflict harm upon vulnerable older people because they seem socially disconnected or mentally disengaged. They may also do so because:

  • The elderly population seems more easily manipulated
  • There’s an expectation that an older person has amassed significant wealth (and thus, there’s more to take)
  • They believe they will face less resistance when sexually or physically assaulting them (as opposed to younger people)
  • There’s easy access (little security checks and few locked doors to residents’ rooms)

These are only some reasons that may go through the minds of abusers to justify their actions in their heads

How To Help Your Loved One if They’re Facing Elder Abuse at Their Nursing Home

It can be devastating once you notice signs that your vulnerable elderly loved one has endured elder abuse. You owe it to them, and their fellow assisted living facility residents, to hold whoever inflicted harm upon them accountable for their actions.

Reporting the incident to the nursing home on the assumption that they will take the right course of action in holding the perpetrator responsible for what they did doesn’t always have the intended results. Nor does reporting what’s been happening to state nursing home abuse or neglect hotlines.

The best course of action is to reach out to one of our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Bey & Associates to discuss the ins and outs of what happened. Our attorneys share more about your legal options so you can make a more informed choice about which one is best for you to pursue as you seek justice for the elder abuse your loved one faced. Reach out to us to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with our legal team today.

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