Typically, there are only around 20,673 formal complaints made of gross neglect, abuse or exploitation on behalf of nursing home residents annually. Also, it is estimated that only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse are ever reported to proper authorities. In fact, over 40 percent of elder abuse violations are reported only after formal complaints are made from residents, families or community advocates. Part of the reason for this is that a large degree of elder abuse goes unnoticed. There are a number of reasons for this:
a. The abuse goes undetected by loved ones
b. The senior is too confused to notice the abuse
c. The senior is fearful of creating problems or believes it is his or her fault
Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse
Below are some of the signs to be aware of with regard to elder abuse or neglect:
1. Changes in behavior
2. Obvious signs of neglect: soiling, unkempt appearance
4. Apathy or discontent
The best avoidance of nursing home neglect and abuse begins with carefully selecting elder care facilities. Aside from the typical location, cleanliness and availability of activities and staff, loved ones should take the time to investigate the facility’s history of complaints, licensing and abuse at resources like the National Database of Performance Evaluations of Nursing Homes. By learning the warning signs of elder abuse and knowing what the risk factors are, it can be dealt with before a devastating catastrophe occurs.
Handling Suspected Abuse or Negligence
Anyone who suspects that an elderly person is at any risk due to neglectful or overwhelmed care givers, or is being preyed upon financially, should investigate the situation. Document all information including time, place, form and event with names and complete details. Discuss concerns with nursing home staff. If the staff seems at all apathetic, it is usually a sign that the problems suspected are probably occurring.
For any situation that is not resolved sufficiently, loved ones should make arrangements to find alternative care for their senior as soon as possible. Also, it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to find out how to correct the situation and protect the rights of their loved one.