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Nursing Home Abuse: An American Epidemic


According to the National Institute on Aging, soon we will have more elderly people than children, furthermore, we will have more people who have reached an extreme old age than we’ve ever had in the past. As the life expectancy has increased throughout the United States and the rest of the world, key problems have arose.

While we have some seniors who are leading a longer life with good health, we have others who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disabilities; seniors who are highly dependent and rely on others to help them in every aspect of their daily lives from eating, to bathing to walking across the room.

Unfortunately, society has yet to meet up with the demands of the aging population. As seniors reach their 70s, 80s, and 90s and become unable to care for themselves, they are placed into nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities, many of which are overcrowded and understaffed.

These institutions are supposed to provide the best care for our loved ones, but millions of seniors are neglected and abused in America’s nursing homes according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Startling NCEA Facts

The NCEA recognizes that elder abuse is underreported.

  • 2 out of 3 nursing home residents are female,
  • In 2008, 3.2 million Americans lived in a nursing home,
  • 6 out of 7 residents are 65 or older,
  • Nearly 1 in 3 nursing homes have been cited for violations,
  • In a 2000 study of residents, 44% said they had been abused, and 95% said they had seen another resident neglected or they had been neglected, and
  • Over 50% of the people working in nursing homes admitted to mistreating the residents (e.g. physical or mental abuse, or neglect).

Common Types of Abuse in Facilities

Nursing home abuse and neglect are common and widespread throughout facilities across the United States, and it’s been going on for years. Why is this happening?

Nursing home abuse can happen for several reasons. The overarching cause could be that a staggering percentage of nursing homes place profits above the safety of their residents. They hire inexperienced, undertrained staff so they can cut payroll costs. Some nursing homes do not conduct proper background checks or turn a blind eye to red flags during the hiring process.

In effect, they fill their facilities to the max and have has few people working as possible. Sometimes the people that are taking care of the residents do not have the best character or compassion for the residents that they are caring for –a common flaw in hiring practices among facilities.

Even when the workers are decent people, sometimes resident-on-resident abuse is harder to catch, and neglect is inevitable when facilities are constantly operating on staff shortages – which is often intentional.

Common types of neglect and abuse:

  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Overmedicating
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Financial Exploitation

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, we urge you to contact a Charleston injury attorney from Berthold Law Firm, PLLC for help.