Newark, NJ- Millions of elderly and disabled individuals live in the long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the country. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there are 3.2 million people living in nursing homes while 900,000 resided in assisted-living facilities.

With 16, 693 facilities across the country, there are plenty of opportunities for a vulnerable senior or disabled person to be neglected or physically harmed in a facility. Elder abuse is an ugly problem, but ignoring it won’t go away. People can protect their loved ones from the unthinkable by being aware of the scope of the problem and taking steps to protect their cherished seniors.

Residents in nursing homes or similar facilities are there because they are unable to take care of themselves. They may health issues that may make it difficult for them to get out of bed or walk or they could be physically disabled. Some patients suffer from cognitive disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

A large number of nursing home residents are immobile, unable to bathe, go to the bathroom or prepare their own food. Those with cognitive disorders have to be carefully watched and reminded o to do such rudimentary things like eat or groom. These seniors at the mercy of their caregivers and depend of them for everything.

While some people have a natural calling to help the elderly, there are others who do not and sometimes neglect their patients or physically or mentally abuse residents. In a series of interviews with 2,000 residents of long-term care facilities, 44 percent said they had been abused with 95 percent stating they had been neglected by staff. That means millions of residents are being harmed by the people entrusted with their care and the needs of millions more are being ignored or denied because by staff members.

The most prevalent form of abuse in a nursing home is physical abuse. Data from the Centers For Disease Control’s National Outbreak Reporting System indicates that 29 percent of elder abuse cases involve physical abuse. Twenty-two percent of cases involve psychological abuse.

Resident to resident abuse and gross neglect occur in 22 percent and 21 percent of abuse cases, respectively. Sexual abuse and financial exploration have a much lower occurrence, 7 percent, but us nonetheless a major concern.

Abuse is major issue, but neglect may be more prevalent. In a 2002 study, at least 50 percent of long-term care staff members said they had neglected a resident at least once in the 30 says prior. Neglect can include not regularly changing a client or moving them to prevent bedsores if they are bedridden. Some staff with hold food and water from a resident so they don’t soil themselves or have to be taken to the bathroom frequently.

Neglect can take on many forms so people should pay careful attention to the physical and psychological well-being of their loved one. Visiting their relatives or friends frequently can help reduce the chances they will be subjected to either abuse or neglect.

If you suspect that your elderly loved on is being neglected or abused a nursing home abuse attorney can guide you on the steps you need to take and whether a lawsuit is in order.