If a loved one is not able to live with us, we try to find them exceptional caregivers and a community full of people who we trust to take as good of him or her as we would.
What we never want is for our loved one to be victims of elder abuse, something that unfortunately happens more and more.
Although each state is required to inspect every advanced care/nursing facility on a regular basis, the system is imperfect, and they may only spot abuse in extreme cases or if specific complaints are made.
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A facility in Pennsylvania was recently shut down after residents reported a variety of extreme injuries and neglect. Aides never answered call buttons, disabled people weren’t moved for days, and people fell out of wheelchairs. Many residents were never bathed or cared for.
While employees were certainly at fault for the more than 230 health violations, the owners also had a role in creating conditions for this sustained culture of abuse and exposing patients to these risks. Staff said layoffs and cost-cutting measures at a corporate level contributed to poor conditions and low morale. Treating our most vulnerable citizens requires genuine care – which some ownership groups fail to understand.
Experts in elder abuse say cases like this unfortunately are not that isolated any more, which is why family members need to know their legal options in case abuse happens
Elder abuse remains a large problem
According to the National Institute of Aging, elder abuse goes beyond actual physical violence, when a health care provider or nursing home staff hurts someone we love. It can take the form of mental abuse, where mean and cruel things are said to them regularly; or financial abuse, where someone may steal their money or possessions. It can even take the form of neglect, where people are left alone so long they feel abandoned.
All forms of elder abuse are not just a violation of trust, but illegal. In some cases, the victim may not be able to defend themselves due to their mental or physical condition, and some victims may not be aware abuse has occurred or have been threatened not to tell that it has taken place. People who are disabled may not be able to speak, but may act depressed or distressed.
So it often falls to family members to notice abuse and take action, whether it’s identifying individual employees or even an entire institution that could be legally liable if there appears to be patterns of abuse and neglect by multiple staffers.