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How big is the problem with elder abuse?

It is not uncommon for residents in Massachusetts to want the best for their aging family members. While many might desire to care for an elderly family member in his or her own home, this is often a challenging situation. Because of this, many rely on nursing homes to meet the care and health needs of elderly family members. While these facilities are often very suitable to meet the needs and interests of the tenants and their loved ones, this is not always the case and some assert claims of mistreatment, neglect and even abuse.

How big is the problem with elder abuse? No matter how one looks at the situation, elderly tenants at a nursing home are essentially vulnerable to the facility and their caregivers. Nursing homes have great control over how and when a patient or tenant is treated and cared for. This requires trust, and if a caregiver fails to satisfy the medical, mental, physical and emotional needs of an elderly tenant or fails to protect them from harm, this could be considered abuse and neglect.

The data concerning elder abuse is significantly constrained for several reasons. Events of elder abuse often go undetected and unreported due to facilities and caregivers hiding it. Elderly patients may not report abuse, neglect or mistreatment because they fear retaliation, do not have the cognitive ability to make a claim or do not want their caregiver, which could be a family member, to get in trouble.

According to a recent study, roughly 7.6 percent to 10 percent of study participants experienced elder abuse in the prior year. Moreover, it was discovered that about 1 in every 10 adults at a nursing home experience elder abuse, not including financial abuse. Lastly, the study has shown a growing trend in reporting instances of elder abuse.

Although patients and tenants at a nursing home may not always report events of elder abuse or neglect, loved ones can also take the step to file complaints regarding elder mistreatment or abuse. It is important to understand the signs of elder abuse and what could be done to remedy the situation. A cause of action could help recover losses and damages from the situation and punish the wrongdoer.

Source: Ncea.aoa.gov, "Elder Abuse: The Size of the Problem," accessed May 25, 2015

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