Over 1.6 million people live in licensed nursing homes across the United States and another million live in other long-term care or assisted living facilities. As the baby boom generation gets up in age these numbers will soon increase significantly. If you or a loved one is shopping for a nursing home, or already reside in one, you may not yet be aware of the increasing reports of nursing home abuse and neglect that occur in these facilities.
Here are just a few things that recent studies have revealed:
• One study found that 44 percent of nursing home residents have suffered some form of abuse. 48 percent reported having been treated or handled roughly. 38 percent reported having witnessed the abuse of others.
• Roughly 30 percent of long-term care staff had witnessed some form of physical abuse of a patient in the previous year. 81 percent report having seen some form of verbal, physical, or other form of abuse over this same time period. 40 percent admit to committing such acts at least once over the previous year.
• 66 percent of nursing home residents suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive problems which severely limits their ability to take care of themselves or be aware that abuse is occurring.
• One third of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities have been cited for violations that had the potential to lead to abuse and 10 percent were cited for actual physical abuse.
• 85 percent of nursing home staff blames staffing shortages for the cause of abuse.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic indicates that only 20 percent of instances of nursing home neglect and abuse are ever reported. There are several possible reasons that such instances do not get reported. For one, many nursing home residents are too cognitively impaired to make a report on their own, whether they suffered the abuse or witnessed another resident being abused.
Those who are capable of making a report often choose not to out of fear that doing so would only cause further abuse. Considering that many nursing home residents do not have friends or relatives nearby who can check on them regularly to see that they are being treated properly, this abuse can become a chronic issue.