When families in New York and across the country make the difficult decision to place their elderly loved one in a nursing home, many do not know just how common abuse of the elderly is in such facilities.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (C.M.S.) not only provides oversight of Medicare and Medicaid services across the country, it is also responsible for the five-star ratings system of long-term care facilities that is supposed to make accurate information available to families who are researching the best options for care of their loved one.
Unfortunately, the agency’s reliance on self-reporting by nursing homes paints a less than accurate picture of the actual conditions at such facilities, and infrequent or less than rigorous on-site inspections by state inspectors can create a false impression of the care that residents are really receiving.
The causes and effects of elder abuse
Elderly patients who are suffering from dementia, degenerative disease or decreased mobility are powerless and sometimes not completely aware of the abuse they are experiencing in long-term care facilities. But the effects are devastating and can include abuse that is:
- Emotional or sexual
- Due to neglect
- Financially exploitative
Although there are many causes of elder abuse, the cost-cutting decisions of corporations that operate multiple facilities often lead to chronic understaffing, lack of oversight and the hiring of underqualified workers in many nursing homes. Exhausted nurses who frequently work double shifts take out their anger and frustration on helpless residents who are in their care. Without oversight, the abuse goes on unchecked.
Taking action when a loved one is hurt
The families of an elderly loved one who is in a nursing home should look for telltale signs of abuse, such as an uncharacteristic withdrawal, fear or unexplained anxiety, complaints about the staff, or physical signs such as broken bones, bruising or scratches. In New York, there is a governing document that outlines the rights of long-term care facility residents as well as the duty of care that these facilities owe to their wards.
When pursuing a claim, it is essential to take steps to investigate what abuse has occurred, when it happened and how long it has been going on. It is a challenging process, but well worth pursuing for the sake of your loved one.