After careful research, a person may find a nursing facility that seems welcoming and orderly, and may even feel a certain peace of mind when his or her loved one is settled in. However, it is important to keep in mind that nursing home injuries are not uncommon, and being aware of the signs and prevalence of abuse may allow one to intervene before serious harm is done.
The National Center on Elder Abuse states that over three million people live in nursing homes, and that among people aged 65 and older, more than 40 percent will spend time in a nursing home. Among those millions of vulnerable and often sick people, studies show that 44 percent say they have been abused, and almost all complained of being neglected.
The kind of mistreatment one sees most often in a nursing home is physical abuse. This may involve rough handling, pushing, hitting or pinching. It may also include the use of unnecessary restraints or drugs to over-sedate a resident. In some cases, physical maltreatment may also include a sexual component.
Nursing home residents are emotionally abused when caregivers yell at, threaten or demean them. This is harder to prove because it does not leave bruises or marks like physical mistreatment, but residents who become withdrawn or confused may be victims of psychological abuse. Fourteen percent of abused nursing home residents suffered from gross neglect. This mistreatment can lead to unhealthy weight loss, infections or bedsores. Any of these can prove fatal to an elderly person.
The abuse of residents in nursing homes is sometimes attributed to an overworked staff, untrained personnel or poorly managed facility. However, no excuse justifies the mistreatment of one of the most vulnerable populations among us. Sometimes the only way a change can be affected is to hold the institution accountable to the law. This can be done by contacting an attorney who is dedicated to protecting the rights of the injured and wronged.