Senior WalkingDenver, CO- In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau found that elderly persons aged 65 and above accounted for 13 percent of the overall population. And the number of seniors is poised to double over the next two decades. While some of this aging population will be able to spend their golden years in their own home, a large number will have to be cared for in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities so it is important to understand the scope of nursing home abuse and neglect so it can be prevented and stopped.

According to the National Council on Elder Abuse, throughout the U.S. there were 5,961, 568 reports of elder abuse, which represents 9.5 percent of the elderly population. Women made up the majority of abuse victims accounting for 67.3 percent.

Of the abuse reports, neglect was the most common making up 58 percent of all reports. Physical abuse and financial exploitation accounted for 15.7 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively. Sexual abuse is far less common only making up .04 percent of all abuse complaints. But the National Council on Elder Abuse estimates that there are 23 unreported cases of abuse and neglect for every one that is reported.

Most elder abuse is perpetrated by an elderly person’s family and friends, there are many cases that result from abuse or neglect in long-term care facilities throughout the country.

The NCEA estimates that 91 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. are understaffed.

Elder abuse experts believe inadequate staffing is the primary cause of abuse and neglect. Staff at long term facilities are often overworked and don’t have the resources necessary to attend to a resident’s immediate needs. Though it is often unintentional, neglect can lead to diminished health for a resident and in extreme cases lead to an untimely death.

Abuse while less common is allowed to persist because many nursing homes are understaffed. Abusers take advantage low staff numbers and have no reason to fear they will be caught.

Nursing homes in Colorado, which were recently evaluate by a non-profit Families for Better Care, were criticized for inadequate staffing. In many nursing homes throughout the state, residents were given less than 2.5 hours a day of direct care from staff which is necessary for optimal care. Resident received less than one of hour of professional nursing care each day.

Severe deficiancies where a resident was in imminent danger of harm were an issue from homes in the state. According to Families for Better Care, 76.1 percent of homes in Colorado were cited for severe deficiencies.

The numbers show that nursing home abuse and neglect is a growing problem that will only get worse if people are not made aware of how many elders are put in harm’s way simply because they must be placed in a nursing home.

Victims of elder abuse have courses of action they can take such as reporting incidents to state and federal agencies. They can also contact a Denver nursing home abuse attorney to see if they should pursue a facility for financial compensation.