Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected or exploited. That’s one out of every ten, according to the Center for Disease Control. But only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is ever reported to authorities. In the majority of those cases, the abuser is a family member. But there are many cases also reported from nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities.
So how can you tell if your family member may be the victim of abuse?
- Physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment: Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns
- Emotional abuse: Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult
- Financial abuse: Sudden changes in financial situations
- Neglect: Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss
- Verbal or emotional abuse: Belittling, threats, or other uses of power and control by individuals
Senior citizens who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death. And elder financial abuse costs older Americans nearly $3 billion per year.
The National Council on Elder Abuse has found a number of disturbing statistics through its research regarding abuse and care facilities like nursing homes:
- Complaints coming from care facilities usually involve abuse, gross neglect or exploitation
- State regulatory surveys understand problem in licensed facilities
- 70% of state surveys miss at least one deficiency
- 15% of state surveys miss actual harm and immediate jeopardy of a resident
- Women are more likely than men to be victims
And, as you may suspect, the elderly are the least likely to report the crime. That makes them even easier targets.
North Carolina has over 400 nursing homes with over 30,000 residents. But only about 18% of those have an overall 5-star rating. South Carolina has 188 nursing homes; about 22% have a 5-star rating. (These statistics are provided by Medicare.) You can find inspection results, ratings and penalties on line at the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
So if you have a loved one in a care facility, be on guard. And if you need help or guidance with a suspect issue, feel free to contact us via this website or by phone at 704-296-0055. It costs you nothing and may give you some peace of mind.