About 1.3 million elderly Americans live in about 15,000 nursing homes nationwide. It is an unfortunate reality that many families simply cannot provide the attention or medical care that is often required when their loved ones get older. Many nursing homes take great pride in caring for our most vulnerable population and go to great lengths to ensure that our loved ones’ golden years are filled with happiness and dignity. Sadly, this is not the case for all nursing homes. Statistics indicate that, every year, as many as one out of every 10 senior citizens will experience some form of elder abuse. Abuse can take many forms – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial or horrendous incidents of widespread neglect.
Statistics regarding elder abuse are also one of the most underreported kinds of incidents, since many elderly are physically unable to report abuse. In more sinister cases, like what has been revealed in the case of Philip Esformes – a super-wealthy nursing home operator who allegedly stole hundreds of millions of dollars by charging the elderly for services they didn’t need – the elderly victims simply were not aware the abuse was happening. Anecdotally, over half of all certified nursing assistants admitted that they have personally yelled at, verbally assaulted, or used foul language when dealing with their elderly clients. This number, too, is much likely higher than what is actually reported.
Signs your loved one is a victim of elder abuse
As stated before, elder abuse is not always something that can be seen visually. Neglect, emotional distress or verbal abuse can be much harder for an elderly person to convey or prove. The following are some warning signs that your elderly loved one may be experiencing abuse or neglect.
- Cleanliness of the facility or the elderly individual can be a sign of how the facility operates overall. If the facility itself is dirty, it may be a sign that the staff is overworked or undermanned, which increases the likelihood that your loved one is not getting the attention they need. If your loved one continuously complains about being dirty, this is an obvious sign of neglect.
- New or recent psychological issues may indicate that something traumatic has happened or is happening with your loved one. If they are depressed, distressful or unwilling to talk about the treatment they are receiving, they may be scared of potential repercussions if they speak up.
- Obvious signs like malnutrition, bruises, broken bones or an unexplained and unprecedented lack of mobility more than likely point to something being wrong. Whether it is excessive force, neglect or something more foul, you should never ignore such signs.