How big of a problem is nursing home abuse?

Illinois families with elderly relatives may be interested in learning more about nursing home abuse, as described by the National Center on Elder Abuse. The term elder abuse was first defined by guidelines issued by the federal government in 1987, but each state still has its own regulations and statutes governing these types of offenses. Institutional abuse may be described as mistreatment that happens at residential facilities, such as group homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

This type of abuse involves a perpetrator who has a contractual or legal obligation to provide an element of protection or care to the victim. Both women and men, of any social status or nationality, may be subjected to some form of elder abuse. Some of the common offenses committed at residential facilities include abandonment, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and neglect. Many of the elders who are mistreated at these facilities may experience more than one type of abuse.

There are several signs families should be aware of in order to reduce the risk of a relative being victimized by elder abuse. According to the NCEA, some of the common tell-tale signs of elder abuse might include contentious interactions between staff and residents, demeaning or degrading behavior against the elderly, unattended medical needs, bruising around the private parts, unexplained changes in financials and sudden withdrawal.

Family members who suspect a relative is being victimized by nursing home abuse may benefit from contacting a lawyer. Legal counsel might be able to investigate the complaint and help discern which parties should be held liable for the resulting damages.

Source: NCEA, "Frequently Asked Questions", December 22, 2014 

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