Our nursing home abuse lawyers in Charleston have compiled some statistics regarding nursing home abuse to help raise awareness. Knowledge is always the first step to preventing nursing home abuse (click here to read about ways of detecting and preventing nursing home abuse).
Nursing Home Residents Are Increasing
The number of elderly adults entering nursing homes and assisted living communities have grown rapidly as the population of elderly adults in the United States expands. In the United States, the 2010 Census recorded that people aged 65 and older make up 13% of the total population of 40.3 million in the United States. By 2050, people aged 65 and older are expected to make up 20% of the total U.S. population. In fact, the fastest-growing segment of American’s population consists of those 85 and up. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people aged 85 or older.
Nursing Home Abuse is Expanding
As a result of the growing population of the elderly, the nursing home industry has expanded rapidly. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that there are more than 18,000 nursing homes in the United States with 1.6 million residents. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse occurs in approximately 30% of these nursing homes. Despite the fact there are Adult Protective Services organizations in all 50 states, as well as mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse in most states, an overwhelming number of cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation go undetected and untreated each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities.
There are several possible explanations for why nursing home abuse occurs so frequently. First, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, approximately 90% of nursing homes are understaffed. As a result, staff members are stretched thin causing tensions on the job to rise. If the staffing needs aren’t met, then the staff that is there may easily become frustrated with the nursing home residents and abuse them in a variety of ways.
Second, the rapid expansion of the nursing home industry has led many facilities to hire inexperienced and poorly trained workers. A frustrated staff member that is not trained to handle an uncooperative resident may lash out at the senior they are caring for. Also, inexperienced staff oftentimes don’t recognize signs of malnutrition or health problems, and these issues go untreated until it is too late. Finally, without proper training and experience, caregivers may not understand how to residents out of their beds properly, how to help residents use the bathroom, and so on. This inexperience can lead to physical injury and neglect.
Third, in this tough economy, nursing homes have cut spending and management. These budget cuts lead to poor resources for facilities and overworked and less attentive management.
Regardless of why nursing home abuse is occurring so frequently, the results are always the same – devastating. In one study in which 2,000 nursing home residents were interviewed, 44% said they had been abused and 95% said they had been neglected or had seen another resident neglected. Elders who experienced abuse, even slight abuse, had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused. Research has also shown that victims of elder abuse have had significantly higher levels of psychological distress than their peers who haven’t been victimized. Also, the elderly who have been victims of violence have additional health care problems than their peers. These problems include depression, anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure, heart problems, increased bone or joint problems, and digestive problems.