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Nursing Home Abuse Problem in the United States

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The baby boomer population is increasing tremendously in the United States, with over 3.2 million adults living in nursing homes and other long term care facilities across the country. The number of residents living in these facilities continues to increase day by day; as many as 40 percent of all adults will enter a nursing home at some point during their lives. Many of the elderly are cared for very well, but a lot of them are becoming victims of abuse.

Unfortunately, this abuse is also hard to detect, with nearly one in four cases going unreported and approximately 75% of cases involving abuse by the caregiver rather than a fellow patient. The sad fact is that the senior citizens who suffer from nursing home abuse have a 300 percent greater chance of early death than those who are cared for properly.

The nursing home examination reports from Congress shows that over a two-year period, nearly one in three nursing homes were cited for serious violations that could harm the elderly, including serious injuries that could put patients in jeopardy of dying. The survey also revealed that up to 44 percent of nursing home residents reported abuse at some time during their stay, with a whopping 95% claiming they had observed neglect. The good news is that legislators have passed Anti-Elder Abuse Laws in all 50 states, but still, the problem of nursing home abuse continues to fester.

The observed abuse includes physical abuse as well as mental. Physical abuse generally denotes bodily harm or an injury to the patient.Incidents of pinching, hitting and the unnecessary use of restraints are examples of physical abuse.Sexual abuse has also been observed, which includes unwanted sexual attention and exploitation. Financial abuse occurs when a nursing home staff takes unfair advantage of patient’s finances or steals their wealth. As patients with dementia are not able to express their wishes cognitively; they are more prone to all kinds of abuse.

Psychological abuse in nursing homes was also found to be prevalent, yet it is even more difficult to identify than physical or sexual abuse. It starts with yelling at the residents, humiliating, criticizing and shaming them over little things. These residents are then more likely to display increased behavioral problemsof their own.

No matter the state in which the victim resides, it is their right to consult a lawyer regarding any type of nursing home abuse to which they may have been subjected. Hiring a nursing home abuse attorney can enable the victim and their family to receive compensation and also serves to continue to shine light on this scourge. Douglas Ketterman (CEO of Ketterman, Rowland and Westlund, which counts nursing home abuse among its specialties, had this to say: “Unfortunately, we’ve often been called upon to help the elderly when they find themselves in these appalling situations. It is our hope that continual exposure of abuse and ongoing financial compensation to the victims will help to reverse this trend of increasing nursing home abuse nationwide.”

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