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How big of a problem is elder abuse in the United States?

Whether it's a parent or a grandparent, making the decision to place an aging loved one in a nursing home is not an easy task. However, it is often a well-calculated decision when considering the health and wellbeing of an elderly loved one. Despite the reason that sparked a family to place a loved one in a nursing home facility in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the nation, there are always concerns regarding the care and treatment of a loved one. This is especially true with elder abuse being in the mainstream media.

How big of a problem is elder abuse in the United States? Nursing abuse and neglect is not a new phenomenon, unfortunately. Such mistreatment of the aging population has been discussed in the public arena since the mid-1970s. However, the initial response to these claims were disbelief and denial. Today, elder abuse still remains a hidden problem in the nation, although it is more openly discussed and addressed today.

The National Center on Elder Abuse, or NCEA, defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional or negligent act carried out by a caregiver or any other person that results in the harm or serious risk or harm to a vulnerable adult. NCEA finds that there are seven types of elder abuse. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect, financial and material exploitation, self-neglect and abandonment.

According to recent trends, roughly 2.1 million elderly Americans are victims or elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. However, this is considered to a conservative estimate because many cases go unreported. The most common type of reported abuse in a domestic setting is neglect, followed by physical abuse and financial exploitation.

The aging population is very vulnerable and greatly at risk of being victims of elder abuse and neglect. If a loved one suspects that an elderly loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse at a nursing home facility, it is important to understand what options and recourses are available. An elder abuse case could help recover compensation for damages and losses caused by the situation, helping to hold a liable party responsible for their wrongdoings.

Source: Huffington Post, "Elder Abuse Growing into a National Crisis," Martha T.S. Laham, June 11, 2015

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