Unfortunately, elder abuse has become far too pervasive in today’s society. Much of this occurs at nursing homes and care facilities, where people trust a staff of trained caregivers to care for their loved ones.
Nursing home care costs families up to thousands of dollars a month. According to the AARP, a year of care in a nursing home costs over $50,000. Ironically, although the costs rise, the care can be marred by caregivers who abuse elderly people living in the nursing homes. While some of this happens intentionally, much of it can happen through negligence.
A perfect example of this occurred recently in Sacramento, California where a nursing home operator has been charged with manslaughter after an elderly woman died under their care. While at first glance, this may seem outrageous to charge the nursing facility, the details provide all that is necessary to understand the situation. Due to being neglected, the elderly woman developed massive Stage-4 bed sores (the worst the ER doctor had ever seen). After being further neglected, those bed sores led to a vicious infection called sepsis, and eventually the elderly woman’s death. Even ER doctors were unable to reverse the nursing home’s negligence and save the woman. After she died and an investigation revealed the extent of the nursing home’s negligence, criminal charges were filed against nursing home operator. While many consider the prosecution one of the first of its kind, it highlights just how bad elderly abuse has become.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is underreported, which allows caregivers to get away with it. According to statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse, only 1 in 5 cases of abuse are reported. Much of this is due to the vulnerability of elderly people under care of nursing facilities. Another cause is the seclusion from the outside world.
Elder abuse is the result of intentional or negligent actions that lead vulnerable elders to be harmed through things such as physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, verbal abuse, threats, financial exploitation, and abandonment.
A tragic example of such negligent care occurred in Minneapolis when a caregiver did not even attempt to give a distressed and dying man CPR. Despite being called the elderly man’s room to give him CPR and care for him, the worker simply did nothing when asked to resuscitate the man, leading to his death. An internal investigation led to the firing of a staff member, and further investigation by Minnesota authorities found that this was the second such incident to occur in just a month by nursing home workers.
While state agencies and law enforcement can aid in investigations into elder abuse, another way to prevent abuse of loved ones is through being proactive. By checking in on loved ones and staying informed on their care, people can ensure their elders are being taken care of properly. And, when that care drops below the level expected, promised, paid for, or turns abusive, families can turn to the legal system to keep their loved ones safe. They can hold the abusers accountable for their action, or inaction that causes so much pain to elderly people.