The rising number of stories of elder abuse and negligent nursing care are creating emotional fatigue across the country. As more instances of serious neglect and abuse make headlines, each more shocking than the last, people are becoming desensitized to the maltreatment present in many nursing home facilities. This is creating a hazardous situation as stories of abuse become more commonplace and people become more accustomed to hearing about it.
Acclimated to Abuse
Many Americans are becoming acclimated to reports of elder abuse. It is so common that many fail to notice stories related to abuse. When they do hear or read these stories, they are so accustomed to it that they fail to recognize the true size and scope of the problem. Current estimates indicate that as many as 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced either physical, mental, sexual, or financial abuse. Each year, it is estimated that 5 million elderly Americans suffer some form of elder abuse.
More than 2 million Americans are living in nursing home facilities or residential care communities that are licensed and monitored by authorities. However, physicians, emergency medical providers, and others responsible for monitoring patient safety rarely report abuse. By some estimates, only 1 in every 14 instances of elder abuse is reported and investigated. The prevalence of the problem and the lack of action indicate that acclimation is creating apathy which is putting the health, safety, and financial security of elderly Americans at serious risk.
Recognition of Nursing Home Abuse
As Americans become more accustomed to reading about nursing home abuse, they are also learning how to recognize the signs of abuse. Thus, while they are less likely to be shocked that it is occurring, they are more capable of recognizing it when it affects their friends or family members.
These signs include sudden and noticeable changes in appearance and behavior, bruises and scars, malnutrition and sudden changes in weight, the appearance of STD’s, etc. These often point to abuse at the hands of caregivers.
Awareness of warning signs to watch for within the nursing home facility or community itself is also rising. These factors include high staff turnover rates, evasive responses to direct questions, poor facility maintenance, and a history of reported elder abuse.