For every case of elder abuse that breaks out, 23 remain in the shadows. Every day, there are residents are being subject to psychological, physical and sexual abuse by staff in nursing homes. Even if you are confident that your loved one is safe at their facility, recognizing that such incidents can stay undiscovered for an extended period of time highlights the importance of staying cautious.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse involves a range of harmful behaviors directed toward older individuals. It encompasses physical, emotional, sexual and financial mistreatment. Neglect and abandonment also fall under elder abuse.
Even more alarming is that almost anyone can be a perpetrator, from other family members to spouses and the staff at nursing homes. In assisted living facilities, understaffing can result in overworked employees who unintentionally neglect the needs of residents or mistreat them out of frustration.
3 major reasons why abuse goes unreported
Residents at nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of their isolation from family and reliance on staff to fulfill their basic needs. Even if a victim wants to voice their concerns, many factors might prevent them from doing so.
- Fear of retaliation: Residents may not speak out against abuse, fearing that it may lead to harsher treatment or threats to their families. It is even more difficult for residents to disclose abuse when the abuser is also their primary caregiver whom they depend on.
- Failing to recognize abuse: Abuse is not always so obvious. Mistreatment, such as emotional or financial abuse, can happen slowly and discreetly. Manipulation makes it possible for victims to be unaware or unsure that they are being mistreated.
- Feelings of shame: Victims of abuse often suffer a decline in self-esteem and confidence. They may blame themselves for being unable to prevent it, or they feel embarrassed because they believe it reflects poorly on them.
You can protect your loved one
Awareness is critical to preventing abuse. Your careful attention and quick action can play a part in protecting your loved one from potential mistreatment inside a nursing home facility. If possible, consider educating them about signs of abuse and how to report it.
Nursing home residents shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. Educating yourself about abuse can allow you to spot the warning signs. If you are unsure what actions to take, an attorney may offer you guidance.