A recent, in-depth investigation by CNN has revealed that America’s seniors are facing an even greater threat than most would have ever suspected in the form of rampant abuse in nursing home facilities nationwide. Examination of voluminous federal and state-level records, interviews with regulatory officials, advocates and the families of victims has presented a devastating picture of failed oversight, unspeakable offenses and profound neglect of the duty owed to those whose well-being has been entrusted to so-called professionals.
Major gaps in reporting of nursing home abuse
After detailing a series of particularly horrific incidents involving the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of nursing home residents, the CNN report draws much-needed attention to the fact that no exhaustive national clearing house of data exists concerning the true number of such events occurring in elder care facilities annually. State investigators are typically the ones to delve into allegations of this type of mistreatment, though a lack of uniformity in how such claims are treated and resolved has made it extremely difficult to quantify the actual scope of the problem on a national level. The CNN study did find, however, that the facilities themselves contribute greatly to this problematic lack of transparency, with over 500 of them having been censured for not properly exploring and reporting allegations of abuse to the relevant authorities or screening prospective employees for troubling past histories.
Aging population boosts demand for quality nursing home care
With medical advances and greater emphasis on healthy lifestyles making it possible for Americans to live longer lifespans than ever before, the need for quality residential elder care facilities is virtually certain to grow in the coming decades. The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers recently put the number of existing licensed nursing home beds in the United States at 1.8 million, a total expected to rise in the near future. While a majority of nursing homes do provide seniors with the dedicated, caring attention they deserve, far too many others are characterized by abhorrent patterns of neglect, abuse and unaccountability to residents and their families.
Elder abuse estimates indicate need for vigilance
The National Council on Aging has suggested that no less than 1 in every 10 Americans aged 60 or older has been subjected to one type of elder abuse or another, but that only 1 of every 14 such cases will be reported to law enforcement or other supervisory authorities. As a result, friends, relatives and others who are close to elderly individuals must take it upon themselves to stay vigilant and attuned to the signs of possible abuse, particularly in residential care environments. Some of the critical hallmarks for which to watch include:
- Unexplained decline in hygiene
- Sudden weight loss
- Bruising or scratches
- Uncharacteristic agitation or aggressiveness
- Withdrawal from personal relationships or favorite hobbies
It is especially important for loved ones to investigate the circumstances surrounding the appearance of one or more of the above symptoms, largely because nursing home residents may already be in the throes of mental or communicative decline and unable to express concerns for themselves. Anytime abuse is suspected, it is crucial that further inquiry be conducted as soon as possible, and the help of an experienced elder law attorney can often prove invaluable.
Unwavering advocacy for Louisiana’s seniors
If you believe that someone you love may have been victimized in a care facility, nursing home abuse attorney Bart Bernard stands ready to zealously assert your family’s rights, seek justice and pursue full accountability from those responsible. Whether by assisting in the filing of a complaint with the Health Standards Section of the Louisiana Department of Health or initiating a civil lawsuit against an unscrupulous nursing home operator, our firm is prepared to offer the aggressive advocacy the circumstances require. To discuss the facts of your case contact us today in Lafayette or in Baton Rouge.
Additional “nursing home neglect & abuse” resources
- CNN, Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes, http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/
- Louisiana Department of Health, Complaints, http://dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/254
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Elder Abuse Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/features/elderabuse/
- National Council on Aging, Elder Abuse Facts, https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, Data From the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013-2014, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_038.pdf