According to 2010 Census data, there were 40.3 million people over the age of 65 in the United States. Of these, 5.8 million were 85 years old or older. Many of these once strong and independent individuals require long term care because they are longer able to care for themselves or live on their own. Unfortunately, sometimes the people charged with caring for older adults do not provide the necessary cares either, causing serious harm to some of the most frail and helpless members of our society.
Our Aging Population Is Needing Long Term Care
Many of these older adults need long term care services. National Center for Health Statistics data indicates that each day in 2012, there were on average 273,200 participants enrolled in adult day services centers, 713,000 residents in residential care communities, and 1,383, 700 residents in nursing homes.
Long term care facilities can provide a variety of services, including–
-Adult day services centers- which provide daytime care for individuals requiring supervised daily care.
-Residential care communities- which provide care and health-related services for individuals who do not need inpatient nursing care.
-Nursing homes- which primarily provide three types of services: skilled nursing or medical care and related services; rehabilitation; and long term care, including regularly required health care services not available in a community setting.
Nursing Facility Neglect
Nursing facility neglect (sometimes called nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or elder neglect) can occur in any long term care facility. Nursing facility neglect occurs when a resident does not receive proper medical, physical, or emotional care or attention, and this failure causes reasonably foreseeable harm to the resident.
There are four main categories of nursing home neglect:
Medical neglect- where inadequate medical attention, preventative measures, or lack of medication lead to physical problems such as bed sores, mobility problems, infections, cuts or other physical manifestations.
Personal hygiene neglect- where the resident does not receive adequate bathing, teeth brushing, clean clothing and linens, and other personal cares.
Basic needs neglect- where the resident does not receive adequate food, water, or a safe living environment.
Social/Emotional neglect- where the resident is repeatedly left alone and unattended
Because neglect is the absence of something being provided, evidence of neglect is indirect. Common signs of nursing facility neglect include:
-Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration -Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores -Unexplained changes in mood, attitude, or behavior -Unsanitary living conditions, including soiled bedding and clothes, dirt, bug infestations -Being left dirty or unbathed -Unsuitable clothing or coverings based on the facility temperature -Unsafe living conditions (lack of heat or running water, fire hazards, poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe equipment or furniture)
-Desertion of the elder at a public place
Taking Action Against Nursing Home Neglect
Research shows that nursing home residents who receive frequent visitor are less likely to experience nursing home neglect. When loved ones visit, they should look for signs of neglect or other indications of maltreatment.
Any signs of neglect should be immediately reported to the nursing home and to the proper state authorities. Most states provide help via an Adult Protective Services (APS) hotline.