An estimated 5,000,000 Americans over the age of 60 are abused in a nursing home each year. Only one out of every 24 cases of abuse are actually reported. This may be because the patient is afraid to report the abuse, or may not understand that they are being abused.
It is important for the person receiving the care, as well as his or her friends and family, to identify this kind of abuse.
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With this in mind I put together this quick article about elderly people being abused in a nursing home – with everything from neglect to sexual abuse.
Elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated intentional act that is either inappropriate or lacks the correct response when caring for an elderly person. This abuse does not have to be just physical, it includes sexual abuse, or can also be emotional or have to do with mismanagement of finances as well. Lack of treatment, also known as neglect, can also be a form of abuse. Neglect is considered just as serious as physical abuse because giving someone the wrong medication or not providing the proper dosage could cause the patient to be in danger.
Whether the patient is in a nursing home or being cared for in his or her own home, he or she could be at risk for abuse from caregivers. Abuse can take place in the patient’s room or elsewhere in the facility, such as the washroom. The abuse may not be the main caregiver, a possible abuser could be:
Any of these allowed personal or visitors can be the source of abuse, as well as any that did not make their presence known to the facility.
The biggest problem that researchers have found when studying elder abuse is the lack of reporting. Some instances might have gone unreported because the elderly person involved may have memory issues and may not be able to accurately report the abuse. This is why it is important for facilities to do background checks to make sure that their employees have not had any previous allegations made against them or are a registered sex offender. They can also make sure that the staff is trained to notice any changes in behavior or a sudden burst of emotion. They should also be looking for any unexplained physical signs on the patient’s body.
If the elderly patient is unable to function very well for himself or herself, then it is up to the staff to make sure that his or her needs are all being met. This includes making sure that all medications and treatments are done correctly and on time. A neglectful staff that fails to give the proper care can cause just as much damage to the patient as physical abuse. This is why it is important for family members to also look for signs when they come to visit. This is critical if the care is taking place inside the home and not in a facility where they have multiple staff members to look over the patient.