When the elderly are abused in tragic and too often unreported nursing home incidents, it sends a shock wave to family members who have placed their trust and confidence in that facility. The national five-star ratings system of long-term care facilities run by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (C.M.S.) is supposed to provide accurate information to consumers who are making decisions on the best options for their loved ones.
However, the C.M.S.’s reliance on self-reporting and less than rigorous on-site inspections by state inspectors has created a false impression of the actual quality of care that residents are receiving.
The fact is, the World Health Organization estimates that between 2017 and 2018, one in six adults who were 60 or older worldwide experienced abuse in some form in a community setting. Almost one in three nursing homes in the United States has been issued citations for abuse.
Common causes of abuse
The causes that result in elder abuse are many and varied, but some of the top reasons are understaffed facilities where nurses must work long hours and face emotional or physical exhaustion. This coupled with a lack of supervision can create the environment for verbal or physical abuse of an elder.
Corporate decisions often contribute to understaffing and the hiring of inexperienced or undertrained employees without properly training or monitoring their activity.
Signs of nursing home abuse
As abuse is often unreported by long-care facility residents, either due to fear of reprisal, embarrassment or mental infirmity, it is important to look for signs that will point to mistreatment of a loved one. Some of these include:
- Repeated falls, unexplained cuts, broken bones or bruises
- Markedly changed behavior including fear, depression or anxiety, or complaints about staff members
- An appearance of malnutrition or dehydration
Elder abuse in Georgia
In Georgia, 12.8% of the population is over the age of 60, and the state has the ninth fastest growing population of elderly residents in the nation. The Georgia Department of Human Service’s Division of Aging Services has reported an average of 3,000 case of elderly abuse since 2011.
Exposing nursing home abuse of a loved one can be challenging. It is essential to have compassionate legal counsel experienced in elder law to help you pursue a claim if you suspect that your loved one is experiencing abuse.