According to a congressional report, a huge percentage of the nursing homes in the USA have been cited for abuse. Some of the problems cited in the report were untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. One study that interviewed 2,000 nursing home residents reported that 44% said that they had been abused and 95% said that they had been neglected. In some cases, a member of the nursing staff had been accused of either physical or sexual abuse; in other cases, staff members were cited for not protecting residents from abuse by other residents.
The details of nursing home abuse included incidents of residents being choked, slapped, punched and kicked by a staff member resulting in lacerations and fractured bones. In one disturbing example, an attendant hit a resident in the face and broke her nose. There is still another case of two staff members bribing a brain damaged resident to attack another resident while the two of them stood back and watched the fight. And, finally, there is the case of a male attendant sexually molesting an elderly resident while he was bathing her.
Elders who experience abuse in nursing homes have a 300% higher risk of death than the elders who are not abused. They also have higher levels of psychological distress, lower self-efficacy and develop additional health problems including bone and joint issues, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure and heart problems.
Patients with dementia are at a greater risk of nursing home abuse than other residents. One study revealed that almost 50% of patients with dementia were abused by their caregivers.
Nursing homes are a highly profitable business. During tough economic times, the resident’s care suffers from cost-cutting measures to maintain a profitable bottom line. Some of these measures can be cut-backs on hours and wages which greatly affect employee attitudes and can be a basis for mistreatment, neglect and abuse.
Your elderly loved ones are totally vulnerable when you put them in what you thought was a suitable nursing home. Remember, they are now in the hands of strangers. It is your duty to maintain a vigilant eye and be constantly looking for anything that appears to be out of the ordinary.
When searching for a nursing home, a good rule of thumb would be to first search out the not-for-profit homes because they generally have a higher level of care than the for-profit homes. They have higher staffing, several volunteers and get more government funding.
If you see anything out of the ordinary with your loved one in a nursing home, be sure to contact Kabb Law, an elder care law firm, at 216-921-KABB (5222).