Elderly People Face Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence
Reports indicate that one in 10 people over the age of 65 will spend a part of their lives in an adult-care facility or nursing home. However, more than 91 percent of nursing homes lack adequate staff to properly care for patients, often leading to disregard and abuse.
“Elderly residents of nursing homes are often completely dependent upon the facility for their food and medicine and depend upon nursing home caregivers for their very dignity,” says Gary Stern, Personal Injury attorney in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP. “Unfortunately, those who are entrusted with the care of elders in a nursing home setting, often abuse that trust.
“When litigating such cases I have seen the worst of the worst. Horrible bedsores because an overworked healthcare worker didn’t turn a patient every two hours as required by law, and rapid dehydration and deterioration because a nurse would not make a call to a physician.”
The elderly are particularly vulnerable in these situations; if you have a loved one in such a facility, it is imperative that you are aware of the level of care being given and understand your legal rights if you suspect abuse.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) lists the following as warning signs of elder abuse:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns may indicate physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, sudden change in alertness and unusual depression may be signs of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can be caused by sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss are signs of possible neglect.
The key is to be alert and watch for any of these signs; very often the suffering is done in silence. According to Stern, “Even with the increasing publicity and improvement in laws that now provide for strict penalties for elder abuse, experts believe that only 14 to 16 percent of abuse incidents are reported to authorities.”
NCEA experts say that the most effective ways to prevent such abuses is through a combination of strategies including coordination between law enforcement, regulatory, adult protection and nursing home advocacy groups. In addition, working conditions in these facilities needs to improve, including adequate staffing and humane salaries.
“America is waking up to the horror of nursing home neglect and abuse of the elderly. Leading the way in exposing such neglect are lawyers and the victims of nursing home abuse who fight back.”
The law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein has had great success representing victims of elder abuse and their families. If you would like to contact an attorney about your case, please contact us at 213-739-7000.