Atlanta, GA- The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5 million Americans suffer from this disease. Seniors with this condition other cognitive impairments like dementia often have to be put in long-term care facilities and nursing homes because their families are unable to care for them. While there are facilities that give these patients the care they need, Alzheimer’s patients may be particularly vulnerable to abuse in neglect.

A severe case of abuse and neglect stemming from earlier this year at Georgia nursing home demonstrates just how vulnerable dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are.

Twenty-one employees including the facility’s owner were arrested in early July, facing over seventy counts of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elderly Alzheimer’s patients. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the patients at the Alzheimer’s Care of Commerce were treated “inhumane,” and patients were living in “undignified conditions.”

Three of the 27 patients in this facility required medical immediate attention.

The abuses included restraining patients in bed sheets, “double diapering” patients so staff didn’t have to change them often. Other abuses were physical in which patients were slapped and had water thrown in their face, Raw Story reported.

The owner of the facility, Donna Wright, is facing charges of cruelty to persons aged 65 or older, abuse and neglect.

“There were accounts of physical abuse, such as staff members striking patients and throwing water on them,” a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

“Experts say Alzheimer’s patients are more vulnerable to abuse because they are often unable to defend themselves and because forgetfulness can make them less likely to report it,” the GBI said.

Seniors in general can be subjected to abuses and neglect when they are placed in nursing homes. A Congressional report from 2011 showed that out of the country’s 5,283 nursing homes there were 9,000 instances of elder abuse and neglect.

Those abuses include slapping, hitting, and sexual abuse, but neglect is more prevalent. Patients are left with untreated bedsores, soiled underpants and bedding, patients don’t get medical treatment for broken bones and other ailments in a timely fashion. Many suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, inadequate hygiene, and suffer from preventable accident such as falls

In a recent survey of employees working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, at least 50 percent admitted to abusing or neglecting patients in their care. Most of the incidents involved neglect. The survey participants cited lack of staff as the primary reason for the neglect.

Whatever the reason for neglect or abuse, it simply should no happen, especially when someone entrust their loved ones care to another. If a person suspects their elderly loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, they have a few legal recourses they can explore.

First they should notify social services who can investigate an incident of neglect or abuse. They can also get in touch with a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss civil legal action. They can seek compensation for their loved ones abuse, neglect and suffering.