With the baby boomer generation aging, there are more people living in nursing homes then ever before. They are currently 36 million people in the United States over the age of 65. This number is expecting to reach over 80 million by the year 2050. At some point, a large majority of these adults will need assisted living or need to go into a nursing home.
The majority of most nursing homes provide a safe and friendly environment for senior citizens. However, some elderly people will find themselves vulnerable to neglect due to a facility over capacity or under-trained staff providing care. These problems can often be made worse because an elderly person cannot communicate their needs to their family and friends. Some experts estimate that about one million elderly Americans are neglected in some manner each year.
The most common form of abuse is general neglect. However, there are numerous documented cases of mismanaged health care along with physical, mental, and emotional abuse. All of these forms of neglect can cause serious injuries among elderly people including malnutrition, broken bones, dehydration, and sadly even death.
There are a variety of things that need to be done to prevent elderly abuse. Before choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility, do your research. Make sure the facility provides adequate care and that the staff is properly trained. You also can prevent elderly abuse by visiting your friend or relative as often as possible. If you are there more often, they have more opportunities to communicate that they are being abused.
If you suspect abuse, contact the staff supervisor immediately. If your friend or relative blatantly tells you they have been abused, contact the police immediately. Elderly abuse can become both a criminal and civil case. Do not wait around and let the abuse continue. The faster you identify the abuse, the less likely serious injuries are likely to occur.