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What can be done to prevent elder abuse?

When residents in Massachusetts decide it is in the best interest of an aging loved one to move into a nursing home, family members are often concerned with the health, wellbeing and care of their elderly loved one. While these facilities claim to offer quality living environments with a caring community and staff, this is sadly not the case for all nursing homes.

What can be done to prevent elder abuse? In order to address elder abuse, it is important to understand what it is and how large of a problem it is in the United States. According to the American Journal of Public Heath, it was estimated that roughly 11 percent of American senior have experienced some form of neglect or abuse in the past year. In a study conducted by the Nation Elder Abuse Incidence Study, it was estimated that about 1 in 14 elder abuse incidents are reported to authorities.

Educating the elderly and their loved ones about the issue could help address the concerns of nursing home neglect and incidences of elder abuse at these facilities. Such incidents could include inadequate staffing at a facility. If there are not enough staff members or they are not properly trained, this could create a hazardous and unhealthy environment for the elderly. They could suffer a fall or require immediate attention, and if there isn't enough staff, the elderly resident may not receive the care they require.

Failure to provide care could harm an elderly resident physically, mentally and emotionally. If there is a lack of basic hygiene, inadequate food, no supervision, lack of social interactions or lack of medical treatment, these could all be signs of elder abuse and neglect. Loved ones should look for signs of possible abuse or neglect, and raise awareness of this issues in their community so everyone is alert about these issues. This not only helps spot mistreatment but also ensure quality and safe facilities are available to the elderly.

While educating oneself about common signs and symptoms of elder abuse can help prevent abuse from occurring or continuing, it is also crucial to understand what steps can be taken if elder abuse has alreadt occurred or is occurring. It is important to report mistreatment or abuse. In addition, loved ones could file a cause of action against the nursing home.

Source: Aplaceformom.com, "Preventing Elder Abuse: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day," Sarah Stevenson, June 9, 2015

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