How common is abuse in nursing homes?

One person being abused is one too many and yet the most vulnerable members of our society are at risk of abuse. As many as five million elderly people are abused every year. Unfortunately,  nursing home negligence can happen. Physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse are all possible in nursing homes. 

Abuse is not always intentional. Neglect is one of the most common types of abuse. Staff shortages and heavy paperwork are no excuse but can be a big factor in elderly residents being neglected. This could mean that they are unattended to in bed all day or left in soiled clothes. Improper care can also lead to physical injuries, such as if someone has a fall trying to take themselves to the toilet. Neglect can also happen when management fails to act after an incident of abuse. 

Emotional abuse is also common; nurses or carers can become frustrated and say horrible things to residents. This can be difficult to spot, especially as depression is common in nursing homes. Elderly residents have often had to leave their homes and community behind and are giving up their independence. They can become isolated and often suffer as a result.

Physical abuse also comes in many forms. From people being hit or inappropriately restrained or residents being overmedicated

Financial abuse is also possible, especially when carers have control over residents’ money. Carers should not accept gifts, especially from patients with diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

A nursing home can be a difficult place to work, especially with staff shortages. One study found that 90% of care homes in the US don’t have enough staff. Sometimes the behavior of elderly residents can be difficult and frustrating. However, it is their staff member’s job to remain patient and emphatic and offer the best possible care. A nursing home should be a safe place where people feel looked after. 

If your loved one is going into a nursing home, do your research and go somewhere with a good reputation. One trick might be to ask staff how long they have been there, this could give you a good indication of if it is a good place to work. 

People going into nursing homes are vulnerable, and therefore abuse is more common. This is frightening, especially for loved ones. The best thing to do is to keep a close eye on your loved one in a nursing home. Visit them regularly and listen to them. 

Further difficulties may present themselves if your loved one suffers from Dementia or Alzheimer’s as you may not know whether you can trust what they tell you. However, if you have any concerns at all you should raise them. Be open and honest with staff – if you have any further concerns then speak to a lawyer. 

It is not all doom and gloom, sometimes a nursing home is the best place for your loved one to be. They should be offering round-the-clock care with opportunities to join activities and meet people.