Elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Many New York residents find the prospect of admitting an elderly relative to a nursing home or assisted living facility troubling. While they appreciate that their loved one requires specialized care, they are troubled by frequent media stories about elder abuse or nursing home neglect. It is sometimes difficult for families to find up-to-date information, and the small amount of accurate data available often paints an unpleasant picture.

The federal National Center on Elder Abuse does its best to provide families with reliable information about elder abuse and neglect, but it concedes that its task is a difficult one. The elderly may not report incidents because of fear or a belief that nothing will be done, and nursing home staff often lack the training necessary to identify signs of emotional or physical abuse.

However, the government data that is available is sobering. Women are more likely than men to suffer abuse, and the likelihood of being mistreated increases as the resident gets older. A study of over 5,000 nursing homes over a two-ear period revealed that almost a third of the facilities had been cited for elder abuse. The level of abuse discovered was even more troubling, as more than 1,500 of the 9,000 documented cases resulted in serious injury.

An experienced elder law attorney will likely be familiar with the worries of concerned families who face the difficult decision of choosing a nursing home. An attorney may be able to provide assistance to families as they research their options by identifying facilities that have faced legal action in the past over alleged abuse or neglect. An attorney can also advocate on behalf of families by filing a lawsuit against nursing homes of assisted living facilities when they provide inadequate care or allow members of their staff to mistreat or neglect residents.

Source: Plymouth-Canton Patch, “Elder Abuse: Do You Worry About a Loved One’s Nursing Home Care?”, Joe Vince, March 16, 2015

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