The Speaker
Saturday, 20 April 2024 – 21:50

Nursing Home Abuse: America’s Silent Epidemic

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

This is a sponsored article from and should not be taken as an endorsement or recommendation by The Speaker Media Limited. Any views expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any of its team members.


Nursing home abuse is a major problem that affects more elders today than most people realize. There are fundamentally two problems that make elder abuse in nursing homes common today, inadequate facilities and nursing home staff taking advantage of vulnerable people. It is estimated that there are roughly 1.4 million people living in nursing homes in the United States today, and of these people, an incredibly high number have faced abuse or negligence in their care facilities.

On the case of inadequate facilities, the problem is essentially one of basic market economics. 70% of nursing homes today are operated as for-profit facilities that seek to cut costs wherever they can to increase their profit margins. While there is nothing inherently wrong with caring for others as a business, the potential for abuse is obvious. Consider a report by the American Association of Justice found that today, 90% of these nursing home facilities are understaffed.

This understaffing leads to serious situations where elders in these nursing home facilities are, at times, not properly given medical attention, fed, or bathed. What makes this situation even more difficult is that elders are often not able to realize or communicate the abuses that they are facing. The warning signs for neglect within these facilities can be hard to spot, and in some cases there may be no physical signs of neglect. Especially when loved ones are in infrequent contact with a particular resident at a nursing home facility, there is a high chance that these problems will go unnoticed.

However, in general, if an elder is found within the nursing with any of the following changes in the elder, a closer examination of the nursing home facility would be prudent. They are as follows:

  • Malnutrition as evidenced by bedsores and frequent infections
  • Drastic signs of weight loss, particularly if the resident needs help feeding them self
  • Bedsoresor pressure ulcers from failing to adequately turn the resident
  • Fallsresulting in various types of injuries
  • Signs of dehydration in patients and lack of proper water supplies
  • Deterioration of physical appearance and/or hygiene
  • The presence of various different hazards, such as slippery floors, bad lighting, and unsafe medical equipment or furniture in the nursing facility resident’s room

And then, unfortunately, there are the cases of direct abuse by facility staff against elders who are unable to defend themselves. Even worse, another study by the American Association of Justice found that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are properly reported to the authorities. Whatever the case may be, whether the nursing home residents are not fully able to report their abuse or whether these nursing home facilities are actively trying to prevent these cases from reaching the authorities, the bottom line is that the vast majority of nursing home abuse is never reported.

Other surveys carried out under more discreet conditions have found that up to 44% of nursing home residents have reported that they have been abused at some point during their stay at these facilities. The fact that these nursing homes are generally private institutions who care for people who are largely unable to defend themselves or communicate their abuse to others, there are plenty of opportunities for malicious nursing staff to behave completely unchecked.

In these cases, like with signs of neglect, it is important for loved ones to remain vigilant of signs that may indicate abuse. These include but are not limited to:

  • Any sort of physical injury such as bruising, cuts, broken bones, or welts
  • Serious infections
  • Signs of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Mood swings and/or emotional instability
  • Reclusiveness, refusal to speak, or withdrawn behavior
  • Generally poor physical condition
  • Significant changes in mental status
  • Changes in power of attorney
  • Caregivers that are apprehensive about allowing certain patients to speak to loved ones unattended

If you notice any of these cases to be true, then it may be time to take a closer look at your loved one’s nursing facility.

Ultimately, while nursing homes may be the best option for many, there are still many things to be aware of. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes is a phenomenon that is rarely mentioned in the mainstream dialogue these days, but without a doubt it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. To prevent such abuse from happening to you or your loved one, always remember to be vigilant and educate yourself on your available legal options.



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