The realization that a loved one needs around the clock care is difficult to accept. Whether it is a spouse, a parent, or a close family member, it is never easy to admit that you cannot provide the level of care that a loved one requires. Once you have accepted that reality though, the equally difficult task of finding a nursing home begins. Deciding on a facility can take weeks, even months, because you want to be sure you have selected the best possible place for your loved one. What happens though, if down the road you begin to suspect that your loved one is being abused and/or neglected at the nursing home? You may feel as though your worst nightmare has come true and you are not sure who to turn to for help. If you find yourself in this situation, a Massachusetts elder law attorney may be able to help.
Elder Abuse – a National Crisis on the Horizon
Sadly, elder abuse is not a new phenomenon; however, it has gained a considerable amount of attention in recent years because it is a growing problem in the United States. In fact, with the elderly population (age 65 and older) in the U.S. set to outnumber its younger counterpart (21 and under) by the year 2050, the problem of elder abuse and neglect may become a national crisis if not addressed now. Consider the following statistics”
- 1 in 10 older Americans has suffered some form of abuse
- Almost 90 percent of the perpetrators of abuse are family members
- Less than 1 in 14 incidences of elder abuse or neglect are reported
- Less than 1 in 25 incidences of financial exploitation is reported
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Facts and Figures
Elder abuse and neglect can occur in any type of setting, including in a victim’s own home. In fact, a significant percentage of elder abuse is perpetuated by family members. Elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes though is also a common occurrence for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Lack of proper oversight
- Large staff turnover
- Failure to properly screen employees
- Patients are more isolated
- Patients are dependent on staff, making them less likely to complain
- High percentage of patients suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementia conditions
- Law enforcement agencies don’t investigate complaints thoroughly
- Punishment is not harsh enough if caught
As a result, the facts and figures relating to elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes are startling – and these figures are likely on the conservative side because so many incidences of elder abuse/neglect are not reported. The following facts and figures, however, highlight the extent of the very real problem of nursing home abuse and neglect in the U.S.:
- The number of people in long-term care in the U.S. has increased five-fold from about one million in the year 2000 to 5 million in the year 2016.
- By the year 2050, 27 million people will live in a long-term care setting
- 1 in 3 nursing homes have been cited for a federal violation that has the potential to cause harm or that has caused harm.
- 44 % of nursing home residents admitted they had been abused
- 95 % admitted to being neglected or seeing someone else be neglected
- 50 % of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating older patients
- 17% of CNAs had pushed, grabbed, or shoved a nursing home resident.
- 1 in 3 reports of abuse involve physical abuse
- 14 % of the complaints filed against nursing homes are for gross neglect
How a Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney May Be Able to Help
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused and/or neglected in a nursing home, you can do something about it. Along with reporting your suspicions to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, consult with an experienced Massachusetts elder law attorney right away. Your elder law attorney can help you petition for guardianship over your loved one if necessary to get him/her out of the nursing home. Furthermore, you may have the basis for a civil lawsuit against the nursing home for neglect. The important thing is to seek help immediately because if you suspect that your loved one is being victimized the sooner you discuss your legal options with an elder law attorney the sooner you can remedy the situation.
If you believe your love done is being abused and/or neglected in a Massachusetts nursing home, contact the experienced Massachusetts elder law attorneys at Debruyckere Law Offices right away by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
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