Nursing home abuse threatens growing elderly population

New Jersey residents who pay a significant portion of their income to put elderly family members in nursing homes expect quality care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is becoming a growing problem as the numbers of baby boomers entering care facilities continues to grow.

According to the Elderly Maltreatment Alliance in 2011, some three3 million to five5 million senior citizens experience some form of abuse each year. A Michigan State University study backs these findings up. A recent survey of the relatives of nursing home residents throughout Michigan found that nearly 25 percent reported at least one instance of physical abuse by nursing home staff. Another survey from the Boston area, however, found the frequency of elderly abuse involving neglect, physical, and verbal abuse to be only 32 per 1,000 persons.

Elderly patients with dementia are more prone to suffer physical abuse. In a study by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 11.9 percent of caregivers stated that they had physically abused elderly patients with dementia. Caregivers who had themselves experienced abuse from their patients were more likely to direct abusive behavior back to their patients.

Resident-to-resident abuse is also frequently seen in nursing homes. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Health Policy and Management found that nursing homes have considerable resident-on-resident abuse, often perpetrated by spouses. Such abuse can be verbal, material, physical, psychological, or sexual. Women were more likely to suffer more serious forms of abuse.

Nursing homes are facilities meant to foster the well-being of their elderly residents. Although neglect and abuse are not widespread, New Jersey residents should be wary about the care that elderly family members receive from such institutions. If nursing home injuries happen and seem likely to have resulted from abuse, consulting a legal professional to consider a personal injury lawsuit may be a potential source of relief.

Source: Medical Daily, "Elder Abuse: An Impending National Crisis?," Susan Scutti, May 30, 2013

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