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November 24, 2016

Elder Abuse: A Growing Problem in the United States?

A study done by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee reported that the percentage of nursing homes cited for violations has increased every year since 1996. A startling 30% of nursing homes were cited for nearly 9,000 instances of abuse over only a two year period; from 1999 to 2001 and sadly, over two million cases of elderly abuse were reported in 2016 alone.

One reason for the increase in elderly abuse is simply because the elderly population in the United States is on the rise.  As baby boomers continue to age, the elderly population continues to increase as over 40 million people in the United States are over the age of 65. With a rise in the elderly comes a rise in nursing home care. The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to hit 80 million by the year 2030.

The nursing home industry is thriving, as a need for home-care positions are some of the fastest growing positions in America. Caregivers in particular are in high demand because once independent baby boomers want to keep their independent life-style and do not want to be moved into a facility. However, it’s been found that these home care companies that place caregivers with families are not doing thorough background checks:  only 55% do any sort of criminal background check and only 32% preform drug tests.

Choosing the right home aide for a loved one is important to the safety and health of the senior citizen receiving care. Families are counting on the home care placement agencies to properly screen candidates – many paying large premiums – to be assured they are receiving the best possible care.  For the family of Joe Guarino, there was no easy way to tell upon first meeting Debra Blair, caregiver, that she would end up stealing and pawning thousands of dollars of jewelry and family heirlooms during her time with Mr. Guariano. After her arrest, it was found that Blair had been recovering from a drug addiction when she was hired by the agency – something that the agency neglected to check beforehand.

Nursing home facilities that have seen an increase in the number of patients admitted have shown that the staff to patient ratio is on the decline, which is resulting in a lack of care and neglect for some of the patients. The family of an Alzheimer’s patient in New Jersey was outraged when they found that their mother was not being properly changed in a timely manner, resulting in the patient soiling herself.  The family believed that severe under staffing at the facility was part of the problem. They were simply not able to keep up with the amount of patients. In states like New Jersey, there is no law that establishes minimum staffing requirements. This makes it hard for families to sue based upon understaffing because technically no law is being broken.

For family members, identifying nursing home abuse can be a challenging and frustrating process. Patients are often unable to speak for themselves, or are afraid of more abuse from their caregiver if they speak out. Nursing homes and long term care facilities must comply with certain federal regulations and laws to receive federal funding. If you believe that your loved one or family member is not receiving the appropriate standard of care that is required by law, the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., can help. Our attorneys are experienced in handling nursing home abuse cases. You can learn more about choosing a nursing home and how to identify abuse and neglect at Elderly-Abuse.com: Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect.

Sources

Nursing Home Abuse Guide,”Nursing Home Abuse Statistics,” (2016). [Link]

Jennifer Margulis, “Behind Closed Doors: Stopping Elder Abuse in In-Home Care,” New America Media (November 13, 2016). [Link]

Statistic Brain Research Institute, “Elderly Abuse Statistics,” (October 30, 2016). [Link]

David Rupe, “Elderly Abused at 1 in 3 Nursing Homes: Report.” ABC News  (July 30, 2016). [Link]

Chris Glorioso, “Photos Show Nursing Home Patient Left Sitting in Human Waste,” NBC New York (November 1, 2016) [Link]

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