Nursing homes require a lot of care and decision-making for family caregivers. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes can quickly escalate and even turn fatal if not addressed. It is estimated that 1 in 3 older adults are victims of nursing home abuse. According to one study, only one in 24 instances of nursing home abuse was reported to local law enforcement.
Reporting neglect in nursing homes is possible through various channels, including local and national organizations.
Although many believe nursing home abuse only involves physical abuse, older adults may be subject to many other forms of neglect and abuse. There is also the possibility of residents suffering from emotional mistreatment, neglect, or sexual abuse.
Below are the many forms of elderly neglect:
Knowing what you can do to report abuse in nursing homes is important to help your senior loved ones. The following are the most important groups and authorities to notify if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse:
The Department of Health and Human Services sponsors the Eldercare Locator service. This program connects seniors with housing, healthcare, and other government services.
To report senior neglect in nursing homes, call their complaint hotline at 1-800-677-1116.
The National Center on Elder Abuse was founded in 1988 to provide information and resources to those affected by elder abuse. By providing training and education, this advocacy group helps make spotting nursing home abuse easier. Additionally, the organization advocates for policy changes to improve the elderly quality of life.
The NCEA teaches you how to:
In nursing homes, ombudsmen protect patients' rights and resolve issues related to their health and safety. A long-term care ombudsman is a middleman between the facility and the resident.
Under the Older Americans Act, every state and several U.S. territories established long-term care ombudsman programs.
The ombudsman's responsibilities include:
Using the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, you can locate your state's ombudsman. An investigation can then be conducted to address your concerns and complaints about nursing homes.
In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of normal aging and those caused by mistreatment. Bruised skin, frequent falls, bedsore, or dehydration is not always an indication that a person is neglected or abused. A medical expert or doctor's opinion can be helpful here.
Doctors are in a unique position to examine a patient comprehensively. They can determine if nursing home residents are abused or neglected by looking at their physical and emotional conditions. By identifying elder abuse and making appropriate referrals to community agencies, the cycle of violence and neglect can be broken.
Nursing home abuse can be reported to local authorities like the police or APS. If an elder has been abused or suffers serious harm, the police can help.
Criminal charges are filed for:
When you suspect an elderly relative is being abused or neglected, contact your local APS branch. After you raise concerns, the social workers can investigate your elder's well-being. Visit the National Adult Protective Services Association website for phone numbers for local APS branches.
The National Adult Protective Services Association has regulations regarding reporting confidential elder abuse in every state. NAPSA ensures the confidentiality of all calls. If you report nursing home abuse, your identity will be kept secret unless you consent to disclose it or a court orders you to. In addition, they are protected from legal action or retaliation.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about reporting abuse in nursing homes:
Do not ignore suspected abuse — staff and management should be questioned. Discuss the situation privately with your loved one. If you notice anything amiss, write it down. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, report it and seek legal counsel.
The more details you can provide, the more likely investigators will be able to understand what happened. Speak with a nursing home abuse attorney, police officer, or ombudsman to find out what you need to file a report.
The most common form of nursing home abuse is emotional abuse. One-third of nursing home workers admitted to abusing residents emotionally, according to a 2020 WHO study. The rate of emotional abuse in nursing homes was higher than any other type.
Don't wait until it's too late to report nursing home abuse. By reporting neglect in nursing homes, an investigation can be opened into their overall well-being. If you suspect your loved one is facing immediate danger or a medical emergency, dial 911.
If you or your elderly loved one prefer more independence, an assisted living community could be a great place to retire. You can learn more about affordable assisted living facilities in this Senior Strong guide.