Nursing home residents may need family members or advocates to report cases of elder abuse. According to The National Elder Abuse Incident Study, only 20 percent of neglect, exploitation, abuse or self-neglect is reported to state authorities. The nonprofit agency which conducted this study, The Center for Elder Abuse, said that an estimated 2.5 million cases of elder abuse occurred at nursing homes across the country in just the last year. This means that 2 million nursing home abuse cases go unreported and unpunished. This eye-wateringly high number indicates a substantial problem on its own but considering the aging population in America, unreported elder abuse could increase to even higher levels.
While victims can be any age, race, gender, or with any kind of diagnosis, the nonprofit elder care group said that common characteristics of nursing home abuse victims include anyone over the age of 80, elderly women, people with cognitive impairments, and people who are physically or psychologically aggressive. Nursing homes are the most common place for unreported elder abuse, although adult day care centers and hospitals are common locations for this horrific crime, too.
The high level of unreported abuse in nursing homes is unsurprising since the majority of elder abusers are typically the same person responsible for reporting the abuse. Approximately 60 percent of residents in long-term care centers do not have a relative or loved one that checks in on them. Without family or friends checking in on them, the responsibility for reporting nursing home abuse will fall on nursing home staffers, the exact group perpetuating the abuse or working with the abusers.
Combating the epidemic of unreported abuse involves a multi-pronged approach, according to The Center for Elder Abuse. First, nursing homes should host seminars ensuring each resident knows their rights and can identify nursing home abuse and signs of nursing home abuse. This could put residents in a position to report elder abuse for their fellow residents, who may not recognize their abusive situation or possess the ability to report the crime themselves. Second, family members and loved ones should both educate themselves and make more of an effort to visit their loved ones. The nonprofit says family members are in the best position to advocate for their loved one and report elder abuse. Finally, nursing homes should educate and empower their staff to report their coworkers. Adopting all of these recommendations could significantly reduce the rate of elder abuse as more reporting leads to more accountability.
Contact our nursing home abuse attorneys to discuss your potential case.