Why is abuse and neglect so prevalent in nursing homes?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a topic that many people shy away from. Whether it is because it is so difficult to comprehend or understand, or because the subject hits too close to home, many people remain ignorant to just how prevalent it is. Unfortunately, this type of abuse knows no prejudice, and likely affects thousands of seniors every year.

So why is nursing home abuse and neglect so prevalent? While many factors are believed to contribute to these heinous crimes, inadequately trained and poorly qualified staffing plays a significant role in its occurrence. Very often, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are understaffed which leads to the hiring of unqualified individuals. Many times these individuals have a history of violence and are not properly trained in how to deal with seniors. Staff members that are not trained to handle certain situations, medical needs and mentally deteriorating conditions, often lose their temper with residents which results in abuse or involuntary neglect.

When a low number of staff members are left to tend to a high number of residents, isolation and neglect often occurs. This situation compounded with the hesitation of residents to report abuse leaves many seniors in very bad conditions. When abusive staff members believe their actions will go without consequence, they are more likely to continue the abuse. Even though every state offers a system for reporting this abuse, many residents are still hesitant to come forward with abuse allegations.

Since it is more uncommon for senior citizens to come forward with an abuse complaint, it may be up to the individual’s family members to identify and report abuse. If there is a question of nursing home neglect or abuse, family members may benefit from speaking to an attorney.

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