Nursing homes and private care situations are no picnic for the elderly. Elder abuse is on the increase.
“There is nothing that makes people more uncomfortable and angry than to find out their senior relative has been abused in a care facility. Some families are lucky enough to catch it, report it and sue the facility. Others go undetected. In fact, statistics indicate that for every report they receive of elder abuse, there are five not reported. That is shocking,” insisted Michael Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas.
Abuse is virtually a catch-all term for a variety of types of abuse, ranging from physical to psychological abuse and from mental and emotional abuse to sexual abuse. Our seniors are in nursing care because they are unable to take care of themselves the way they once did, and instead of finding a loving, respectful haven where they are safe, they run into situations that would make anyone blanche with distaste and disgust.
Since when has it become acceptable to treat our elders with such disrespect? Since when has it become acceptable to put them at risk by neglecting them? “If it were not for the seniors who went before us, we would not have what we have today. We owe them a huge thank you, not abuse, neglect and a slow, painful death,” Smith said.
Frighteningly, seniors in care are becoming the de rigueur target of criminals and those who think abusing them is fun or something to fill their long hours at work. “I reported on one case recently in which two teens were sexually abusing Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It was a joke for them. More recently, there have been reports about several workers at another care facility verbally abusing, pinching and slapping residents. Isolated incidents or the tip of the iceberg?” speculated Smith.
It very much looks like the number of elderly people abused in care is on the rise. “What we are seeing now is just the hint of the much deeper problem that runs rampant in care facilities – silent abuse that goes unreported for fear of the repercussions. Can you imagine living your life in fear of being beaten? Not many of us would put up with that now, but what do you do when you are in your 80s and frail? The options are slim to none,” added Smith.
Much of the abuse that goes unreported happens in the dead of night, when no one else is around to see or hear what is going on. Some very awful things take place behind closed doors at nursing homes and in private care homes. While many think a private care home is more personal and safer, this is not always the case. The fact is the elderly in private care homes are even more vulnerable than they are in a licensed facility.
Deprivation, beatings, medications being withheld, medical symptoms being ignored, chemical restraints and isolation are the stuff of horror movies, but they could be happening to senior relatives in care. No one deserves to live like that.
“Know what rights your loved one has, be up-to-date on the law, question what you do not understand, drop in unannounced, talk to other residents and other visitors while you are there. Get a good sense of the atmosphere in the home, and if your intuition tells you something is not right, do not shrug it off. Contact an experienced lawyer to look into the situation. You may save the life of not only your loved one, but someone else that needed help, but had no voice,” Smith encouraged.
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Michael Smith is an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas. Learn more by visiting