Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect a Major Problem in Florida
Even the most well-intentioned family members can often be caught unaware of an elderly relative being abused or neglected by the nursing home staff who are charged with their care. There are so many ways a nursing home resident can undergo abusive or negligent treatment, and not all of them appear obvious to visiting family and friends.
Our elderly population continues to grow rapidly, with people aged 65 and over projected to make up 20% of the U.S. population by 2050, according to census figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau. While some cases of elder abuse can be easily noticed, there are many cases in which a caregiver fails to satisfy a loved one's basic needs, or fails to protect them from harm. Most people are blind to the fact that anything other than the best care is being provided to a family member who lives in a nursing home, assisted living or other elder care facility. It is easy to assume everything is OK, and that if there were any abuse going on, it would be easy to spot.
Yet in many cases, the older relative may be unable to express themselves in order to alert someone of suspected abusive or negligent treatment. And there are so many ways that abuse can take place – from physical mistreatment to verbal and mental abuse, and even financial mistreatment.
Here are some facts you may not know about abuse of the elderly:
- Female elders are victimized by abuse more than males
- 1 in 10 elders experienced abuse – excluding financial abuse
- Data from state Adult Protective Services show an increase in reported cases of elder abuse
- A study by the National Research Council indicates that only 1 in 14 cases of nursing home abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities
- A study by the U.S. General Accountability Office showed that state surveys understate problems in licensed facilities, noting that 70% of state surveys miss at least 1 deficiency, and 15% of surveys miss actual harm and immediate jeopardy of a nursing home resident
Coming to the realization that an elderly family member may need more care and attention than can be provided if they live alone or with you can be a tough decision. You do your research, talk to others about their experiences involving a nursing home that may be convenient and is purported to have a good reputation, but still you can never be sure what to expect. Even those who consider themselves diligent in their efforts to oversee the well being of a relative living in a nursing home can miss signs of abuse or neglect. Often the elder nursing home resident is hesitant to report any problems, for fear of retaliation by a nursing home caregiver, or because they think no one will believe them.
If you currently have a loved one living in a nursing home, or are anticipating the need to find a suitable elder care facility in the near future, there are many excellent resources available to you. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration publishes a directory of licensed elder care facilities by region throughout the state. You can check to see any reported health, safety and abuse infractions at a specific care facility. For the most recent report from February 2013, click here.
Finding out that someone you love may be the victim of nursing home abuse can be a startling revelation. The Fort Myers nursing home abuse lawyers at Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone have helped many people like you who have discovered a family member has been victimized by a nursing home caregiver. If you feel that you need legal help, we will sit down with you at no cost to review the facts and help you determine if you may have a case for legal action. Call us at 239-461-5508, and let us help you keep your loved one from being victimized.