1 in 14 cases of abuse of a senior citizen goes unreported? A couple of warning signs that something may be amiss:
Frequent arguments or tension between the elderly person and the caregiver
Changes in personality or behavior of the elder
It is difficult to take care of a senior. And it’s difficult to be elderly. Age brings infirmity both physical and mental. And both the caregiving and the needs can create situations ripe for abuse.
Abuse can take a number of different forms – each with warning signs that you should be aware of. Visit our blog post on this website to learn what to watch out for – and what to do about it. You’ll also find where you can review inspections and rating of nursing homes in your state.
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?
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.
Watch William’s Interview on the new bill that puts our elderly and children at risk.
As a firm that represents families in nursing home and daycare center abuse cases, the recent “ag-gag” law passed in the legislature sends a chilling message to the public — We’re going to protect our businesses at the expense of truth, honesty and well-being of the elderly and children. The bill, initially vetoed by Governor McCrory, eventually passed and is causing unintended consequences for employees in nursing homes and daycare centers who want to report abuse. The law, which started out directed to agriculture, states that employees could be sued for breaching the “duty of loyalty” to their employer, and be liable for $5,000 for each day they are found in breach, court costs, and any actual damages caused by the breach.
“Our greatest concern is that this bill stifles an employee’s ability to report events they believe compromise the care of our elderly and children for fear of losing their job, or paying an excessive fine,” said, attorney William Goldfarb.
There are only 5 other states that have similar laws on the books. Here’s what some of our newspapers have said about this chilling legislation.
The Charlotte Observer: “One would think that lawmakers would clamp down on illegal activity at businesses. Instead, they are clamping down on those who would expose it.”
Fayetteville Observer: “Do we really want to give unscrupulous businesses extra protection? This bill richly deserves the governor’s veto pen.”
The News & Observer, Raleigh: “This bill responds to no need other than to protect businesses that should be embarrassed by their activities. It would protect the strong from the helpless.