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How many people are subjected to nursing home neglect and abuse?

Most Floridians know that the elderly are prone to falling and may experience injuries more easily than younger individuals. However, those who have a loved one in a nursing home or are considering doing so should know that nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect is far too prevalent. In fact, those who live in a nursing home may be exposed to an increased risk of injury.

According to a National Center on Elder Abuse report, more than three million Americans live in nursing homes and an additional 900,000 live in an assisted living situation. In a survey of 2,000 nursing home residents, 95 percent stated they had witnessed or been personally exposed to nursing home neglect. Another 44 percent claimed they had suffered nursing home abuse. Perhaps most frightening is that more than 50 percent of nursing home employees admitted to mistreating residents, which included neglect and physical violence. Two-thirds of those events were directly linked to neglect.

Nursing home neglect and abuse can take many forms. Residents may be subjected to physical abuse such as hitting, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and gross neglect. In some instances, a nursing home staff's failure to monitor residents can result in resident-on-resident abuse. No matter how it occurs, the stark reality is that nursing home abuse is a sad reality of which all should be aware.

Though many experts call for stronger protections for nursing home residents, the truth is that very little is being done. Therefore, those who experience nursing home neglect or abuse should turn to one of the only places they can: the legal system. Perhaps by filing a lawsuit, a victimized nursing home resident can punish those who seem to have little regard for the well-being of our elderly, and spur government and regulators to make the significant changes the field needs.

Source: National Center on Elder Abuse, "Abuse of Residents of Long Term Care Facilities," accessed on July 14, 2014

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