There are many reasons why elder abuse occurs, making it one of the most complex issues that nursing homes need to address. Generally, the residents’ quality of life is a reflection of the caliber of the staff and management.
Although each state has different definitions of elder abuse, which you can find from the American Bar Association, the term generally refers to the harm that a caregiver or any other individual inflicts on an older adult. In most cases, neglect is also a form of abuse, along with physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, or financial mistreatment. While elder abuse can happen in homes, it is also a prevalent problem in institutional settings such as nursing homes and other care facilities.
The following are some specific factors that frequently lead to incidents of abuse in nursing homes.
Abuse could occur when there is a shortage of staff members who are supposed to meet the needs of residents. States differ in what they consider adequate staffing ratios when it comes to institutional settings, according to a University of Minnesota School of Public Health document.
When there are not enough workers in a nursing home, it becomes more likely that neglect and mistakes will occur. Moreover, there is a higher risk of staff members becoming abusive when they are stressed and overworked. They tend to inappropriately blame elderly residents for their frustrations and resort to ill-treatment when they feel overwhelmed or impatient.
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Since there is no standard pay rate for nursing home staff, some workers may feel undervalued when they think they have a low-paying job. This can lessen their motivation to assist residents or provide a high level of care. Unfortunately, some staff members can even become hostile towards the elderly when they have low morale.
Lack of Experience or Training
Vulnerable residents usually depend on staff members to take care of them and attend to their needs. When a nursing home fails to give adequate training or engages in poor hiring practices, the residents are the ones who suffer. Without the proper support and tools to perform their duties adequately, staff members will not have the means to handle various situations in the facility, putting them at risk for becoming aggressive or violent towards residents.
There are times when staff members commit abusive acts when they run into personal issues or already have a tendency to act abusively in the first place. Occasionally, the nursing home itself lacks the kind of management and leadership necessary to prevent abuse. When there is no sense of accountability, workers continue to carry out unacceptable practices since they do not worry about the consequences.
Elder abuse can lead to permanent damage, life-threatening harm, or even death. Older adults can take a longer time to recover than younger people, significantly reducing their quality of life while they heal. Beyond the physical suffering, the mental and emotional health of abused residents can also deteriorate because of helplessness, anxiety, fear, loneliness, and distress.
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What You Can Do About Elder Abuse
If you have reason to believe that a nursing home is abusing your loved one, you can reach out to a local protective services agency such as Adult Protective Services (APS). Thanks to the Nursing Home Reform Act, federal law can also provide additional protection for older adults in nursing homes.
What a Lawyer Can Do to Help
Nothing can justify elder abuse, and you should not allow it to continue. When you retain an attorney, you will have a professional on your side who will perform a thorough investigation of the abuse and determine if you are eligible to file a case against the nursing home.
Laws vary with each state, and your case may involve complex legal issues that a lawyer can help resolve. Through proper legal recourse, your loved one may be able to recover damages for all the suffering and losses they had to endure.
Take Action Today to Keep Your Loved One Safe
You may be wondering why elder abuse occurs despite laws protecting senior citizens. Sadly, not every nursing home strives to provide high-quality services to some of society’s most vulnerable members.
If you or your loved one wants legal assistance to address issues of abuse, do not hesitate to call Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 959-1444. We are always ready to answer your questions and give you a free case review today.