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The Fight Against Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes!


Elder abuse in nursing homes can take place in many different environments and can be committed by different types of people who are responsible to care for the elderly. Mistreatment could take place in the victim's home by a close relative or it could take place in a nursing home facility by a staff member whom the victim has never met. The problem has gotten worse for the elderly in nursing homes throughout the United States over the past several years but is continuing to be addressed on a more serious note. Physical mistreatment is just one type of crime committed under the category of elder abuse. Some of the other types of abuse are neglect, emotional abuse, and financial abuse.

The most common type of elderly abuse in nursing homes is neglect and results in over 70% of all cases. Neglect is committed when nursing home residents are not given efficient meals, proper attire, needed medical attention, or any other help and support needed from the nursing home employees. Emotional abuse is second most common, making up 35% of overall reported cases. The elderly are frightened, belittled, and put down by the caregiver in these situations. Coming in third at 30% of all cases is financial abuse. This occurs when an older person's possessions and estate are mistreated and taken advantage of by someone without permission. Nursing home theft falls under this category. Last but not least is physical abuse, accounting for 25% of cases. This type of victimization causes the victim physical pain and bodily harm. It consists of the abuser punching, kicking, biting, shoving, sexually abusing, and anything else that would inflict pain on someone. Elder sexual abuse is under this category as well.

Elder abuse in nursing homes is documented throughout the United States every day as studies show that elderly women, 80 years and older, are more likely to be exposed to elderly abusive situations because of the constant assistance needed to live. People over 80 years old tend to become elder abuse victims over twice as much as people in their 60's and 70's. Overall, 30% of nursing homes in the U.S. were charged with abuse in 1999 and 2001. A large portion of the abusive crimes committed in nursing home facilities is caused from stress and difficult working conditions for the nursing home employees. Staff members often get aggravated and impatient with the nursing home residents towards the end of a shift, which is a common reason given for elder abuse situations. Most reported cases occur in the victims home, however, and are committed by a close family member. Some causes of elder mistreatment may be stress, financial problems, unresolved family problems, or past drug or alcohol addictions in the victim or abuser.

Preventing elder abuse can be difficult for many different reasons. Sometimes crimes against older adults are difficult to detect because of the victim's aging or symptoms of an illness. Since the elderly victim's skin becomes extremely sensitive and is easily bruised or cut, a person can't be positive that it was the result of any type of mistreatment. However, one shouldn't always assume that bruises or marks on an elderly person are normal and acceptable because of aging.

The relationship between an elderly patient and the caregiver can tell a person a lot in how the patient is treated. Is their tension in the air? Do they make friendly conversation or say nothing to each other? Is the caregiver rough with the patient? Does he or she talk harshly to the patient or kindly? This will help determine whether the patient is being abused.

If you think someone may be the victim of neglectful care, the best way to find out is to talk to the patient alone. Make sure the patient feels safe and knows that you are trying to help. The caregiver should also be aware of the situation. After the interviews, you have to decide which person is telling the truth and which story makes the most sense in the situation. If the caregiver said that the patient fell on accident, but the patient makes claims of mistreatment, then you have to look at the injuries and decide which makes the best sense. In situations where the patient is not able to communicate with you because of a disease, you must decide whether foul play occurred by the physical injuries on the patient.

Following the interviews with both the patient and the caregiver, write down any information received that may be important in the case. Be sure to use exact statements by using quotation marks. For example, "He pushed me down and slapped me in the face", instead of the patient was pushed and slapped by the caregiver. That makes the statement more believable and effective. Use facts that were acquired from the interviews and observations, not personal opinions and points of view. Also, tell both sides of the story, from the patient and the caregiver.

With permission from the patient, photograph all bruises, cuts, and other marks on the patients's body. Include a report that tells how each injury occurred, and have both the patient and the caregiver sign and date the report.

Most nurses in the United States must legally report any suspicions of elder abuse in the facility that they encounter. There are many elder abuse laws that nursing home personnel must follow to avoid getting involved in a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Should legal consultation be needed to deal with nursing home abuse and neglect, there are attorneys who specialize in nursing home law to guide and assist you with the proper legal action.

Educating and making the aged residents aware of abuse in nursing homes is a major step in preventing elder abuse in nursing homes. Give them tips to avoid becoming a victim. Some tips you may tell them are: keep in contact with family and friends, keep belongings in a safe place, know who to contact if put in an abusive situation, meet with doctor and dentist on a regular basis, and any other tips that you think may help the old person. Elderly victimization and crimes against elderly persons are becoming a major problem in the United States, and people should be educated on the subject, in order to protect an loved one from becoming a victim.

Learn how to protect you and your loved one from elderly victimization. We rank every nursing home across the nation to help you get informed when choosing the best nursing home care facility. Search our database of nursing homes to help you get informed and avoid becoming another statistic of elder abuse in nursing homes!

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