Atlanta, GA-The nurses and other staff members at nursing homes or assisted-care facilities are typically compassionate caretakers who place a premium on their patient’s care. But that isn’t to say there are not those out there who hurt, injure of neglect elderly people in their care.
There are approximately half a million seniors in elder care facilities across the country and the number of residents in long term care facilities is expected to increase 40 percent over the next decade. This means that thousands of family members will have to trust others to care for their aging loved ones.
Even if a family has taken great care to choose the right facility, there is always the chance that they will be abuse or neglected. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, close to 2 million seniors have been abused by someone they trusted either in their homes or at long term care facilities. Experts estimate that for every case of abuse or neglect that is reported five incidents go unreported.
Abuse and neglect in nursing homes is a serious problem but families can take steps to prevent it.
The single most important action a family can take to prevent abuse of their elderly loved one is to visit them often. Frequent visits give not only makes the senior very happy and keep them from feeling isolated, but it also gives the family member or friend the opportunity observe the nursing home staff and see if they are giving patients the attention they need. Going at the busiest time of the day, usually lunch, can give a person insight into how well the facility is staffed.
Regular visits also signal to potential abusers that the family is proactive about their loved ones care. Visits also reduce the opportunities for abuse.
If you notice signs of emotional and physical abuse or neglect, there are other steps you can take to prevent future incidents. Reporting the incident to supervisors at a long term care facility is one preventative measure, but complaints should also be directed to an outside agency such as an adult protective services or an elder abuse hotline. If your loved one has been harmed then call 911, this will often require a state’s department of health to investigate the causes of unusual injuries, such as untreated bedsores or broken bones.
Some families want concrete proof that their elderly loved one is being abused so they often rely on hidden cameras to catch an abuser in the act. This allows someone to obtain proof of abuse and neglect which will make it easier for authorities to secure criminal convictions against the abusers.
When an elder is abused, they and their families also have the right to take civil action against an abuser and the facility where it occurred. A civil lawsuit will hold a facility and an abuser accountable for abusive or negligent actions. A nursing home abuse attorney can thoroughly investigate any suspected incident of abuse or neglect and determine if the senior and their families are eligible for compensation.