As Baby Boomers age, the issue of elder abuse in nursing home facilities has become more prevalent in the United States. While disturbing to contemplate, elder abuse involves the abuse and neglect of adults as they become more vulnerable during the aging process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elder abuse happens to more than 500,000 adults over the age of 60 each year. While these numbers are staggering, they do not include the instances of elder abuse that go unreported. While nobody wants to believe that elder abuse is taking place, it is essential for those involved with nursing home facilities to remain aware of how seniors are treated in these environments. It is important for adults of all ages to be aware of their legal options for nursing home abuse.
Whether under contract or part of Medicare or not, nursing home residents have basic rights to comprehensive care that is free from all forms of abuse and neglect. Forms of abuse can include mental, verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual acts, as well as physical or chemical restraint that is not medically necessary. Financial abuse and abandonment can also occur to those over the age of 60, leaving these individuals particularly vulnerable. Neglect is also a reportable offense, and involves the refusal of caregivers to give seniors the care that they need. Neglect can include the denial of clothing, medical care, assistance with hygiene, shelter, and food, but may also depend on specific circumstances.
Nursing home facilities and professionals can be held liable for elder abuse, and those involved can pursue legal options for nursing home abuse. While nursing home facilities are “vicariously liable” for the actions of their employees, they can also be held accountable for breaches of regulatory or statutory responsibilities, negligent hiring, inadequate training, understaffing, and errors when dispensing medications. Elder abuse does not have to be proven by those who report it, and it is essential that suspected abuse be reported to the local police and Adult Protective Services as soon as possible. Take this quiz to find out whether or not elder abuse may be occurring and if legal options for nursing home abuse need to be pursued.