Nursing Home Abuse is Grossly Underreported in the United States
The numbers are in from a recent government study, and they further prove that 1 out of 4 cases of nursing home abuse have gone unreported.
The agency faults Medicare for not enforcing a requirement for nursing homes to notify law enforcement about potential cases of abuse.
About the Study
The Health and Human Services inspector created an early alert as they began their investigation because preliminary findings in 33 states revealed an alarming number of unreported abuse cases.
Right now, 1.4 million adults live in nursing homes across the country. With so many cases of abuse and neglect going unreported, this is a severe national health and safety issue.
Of the unreported cases, HHS found that 4 out of 5 involved rape or sexual abuse. The state of Illinois had the highest number of cases, with Michigan, Texas, and California following close behind.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse takes many forms, including psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual.
The various forms of abuse in those categories are daunting and include everything from withholding food and water, to inadequate supervision, to allowing patients to develop life-threatening infections.
The most common types of nursing home abuse seen today include:
Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse can be easier to discover than other forms, because it is marked with apparent changes in a loved one’s behavior, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, angry outbursts, and shyness.
Physical Abuse – Physical abuse might go unnoticed because some caretakers are careful to hide the evidence. The most obvious signs of physical abuse include unexplained markings, cuts, and bruises. Broken bones without explanation, unexplained illnesses, and bedsores are also signs of physical abuse.
Financial Abuse – Financial abuse is less common, but still occurs more than it should. Those with limited memory, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, are at a higher risk for this type of abuse. Financial abuse can include unexplained gifts and checks to caregivers, missing funds from bank accounts, or signing over a power of attorney to a caretaker.
Neglect – Neglect can look different than abuse, but it is just as severe. Sadly, neglect is widespread, and loved ones need to know what signs to look out for that can be an indication that their loved one is a victim of neglect. Such signs might include illnesses, dehydration, signs of malnutrition, missing medications, unexplained weight loss, bedsores, dirty appearance, and lack of hygiene.
What Can Loved Ones Do if they Suspect Abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of abuse, contact law enforcement immediately and report it. Then, seek advice from a nursing home abuse attorney. An attorney can advise you on what steps you should take next – and help file a lawsuit against the nursing home, employees, or owner of the nursing home company for compensation.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld P.A. can assist you with your nursing home abuse case.